Silicofluoride, violence may be linked

by Maura Henninger | 6/26/98 5:00am

Children living in areas where water has been treated with silicofluorides have higher levels of lead in their blood, resulting in more violent behavior, educational failure and disease, according to the preliminary findings of Government Professor Roger Masters and his research partner Myron Copland, a retired chemical engineer.

Copland told the Valley News the government's decision to use silicofluorides to fluoridate water 50 years ago may be one of "the most profound, misguided judgments in human history."

"This is political dynamite," he said. "I mean, we're contending that the US Health Service has been unwittingly toxifying people for years."

Copland said the compound is especially harmful to females ages 10 and up. According to Copland, lead accumulated in the bones of women over many years may be lethal to a growing fetus should the woman conceive.

There is no record of animal or human testing of silicofluoride treated water, and the researchers argue that careful assessment of correlations between the use of these compounds and lead uptake is needed.

They plan to continue their research by examining geographical variations in chemicals used for water treatment and local differences in the amount of lead absorbed by children, taking into consideration demographic differences and factors linked to increased blood-lead levels, including industrial pollution and old housing.

The resulting geographical lead level variations in children's blood will be studied as a factor that might explain why some communities have unusually high rates of crime, educational failure and disease.

The Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics and Training has granted Masters and Copland $50,000 to study their preliminary findings, and the College has given additional in-kind support of $80,000.

But finances, Copland said, are still a concern.

"There's no way we're going to be able to do this without more money," he said.

Because of the controversial nature of their work, articles based on their preliminary results have been repeatedly turned down by several publications, Copland said.

Masters, Copland said, is in the process of writing applications for several grants. But Copland said he is not optimistic they will be awarded.

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control, the federal agency that deals with fluoridation, deny the harmful effects of fluoridated water, according to the Valley News.

Groups and individuals constantly try to prove the negative effects of fluoridation, David Apanian, a CDC fluoridation engineer, told the Valley News.

"Being an EPA-funded project doesn't necessarily give it credibility ... [but] it may turn out to be something we need to look at," he said.

Copland said the CDC does not understand what he and Masters are studying.

Sodium fluoride has, until now, been the only chemical researched. Masters and Copland are focusing on silicofluoride -- a different chemical altogether.

Several College students taking Masters' "Human Nature and Politics" course assisted with his research last term.

Students had the choice of writing a paper or conducting research to supplement Masters' study, according to Matt Benedetto '00, a student who took the course.

Most students conducted research, Benedetto said, though none felt exploited.

Masters offered students the opportunity to continue working with him on the study when the term ended.

Masters was not available for comment.

Advertise your student group in The Dartmouth for free!