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Comment: 1893. Fluoride known as toxic poison over a century ago.

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1893. Fluoride known as toxic poison over a century ago.

Introduction: During the last half of the Nineteenth Century, ore refineries and chemical plants were introduced in Europe. In these early years of the industrial revolution came serious air pollution problems. Iron and copper refineries or smelters were the worst culprits. Fumes and fallout from their smokestacks caused obvious injury and sickness to people, livestock, crops, and other vegetation in the surrounding communities and countryside.

Unknown in the early years of the industrial revolution, the most deadly chemical killer in this effluent was hydrogen fluoride (HF), now known to be toxic in a concentration of parts per billion. The term fluorine (F: Periodic Table of Elements, #9), rather than fluoride was then commonly used in referring to the air pollutant. Hydrogen fluoride was itself first identified in industrial emissions after the turn of the century, but its effects had been clearly seen in the areas surrounding these industrial polluters.

Early European Chronology

  • 1855. Smelters in Freiburg, Germany first paid damages to neighbors injured by fluorine emissions.
  • 1893. The smelters in Freiburg paid out 880,000 marks in damages for fluorine contamination injuries and 644,000 marks for permanent relief.
  • 1900. The very existence of the smelting industry in Germany and Great Britain is threatened by successful lawsuits for fluorine damage and by burdensome laws and regulations.
  • 1907. A disease of cattle that had been endemic around Freiburg for some 20 years was identified as fluorine poisoning from the smelters.
  • 1912. Fluorine poisoning of cattle was reported near a superphosphate plant in Italy. During the 1890s there had been numerous complaints of damage to vegetation around superphosphate fertilizer plants.
  • 1918. The cattle around a Swiss aluminum plant became poisoned. Aluminum smelters, utilizing the fluxing agents flourite (49% fluorine), and cryolite (54% fluorine), were to become major sources of fluorine air pollution.

Dentists would be well to study the history on this subject.

Disclaimer: Mark Twain (1835-1910-To be continued) is unlicensed. His river pilot's license went delinquent in 1862. Caution advised. Daily Paul