Vegetation and Fluoride

Fluoride is the negatively charged ionic form of the element fluorine. In the environment, fluoride is highly reactive, so it usually is bound to positively charged ions such as sodium or calcium, or positively charged binding sites on organic molecules. In water, these compounds can dissolve, allowing fluoride to exist in a free or unbound state. Fluoride occurs naturally in soils and water, and is commonly found in vegetation in varying concentrations.

At elevated concentrations, however, fluoride has been shown to cause adverse health effects, including dental fluorosis, or graying of the teeth, as well as adverse effects on skeletal bone.

Fluoride is also used industrially in aluminum and steel manufacturing, and in the production of some fertilizers. As a consequence, fluoride can be released to the environment. Usually, releases of fluoride from aluminum manufacturing are to the air through stack emissions, which ultimately result in the deposition of fluoride onto the land surrounding the aluminum facility. The primary sources of fluoride in Akwesasne have been identified as the aluminum production facilities owned and operated by ALCOA near Massena: the ALCOA West and ALCOA East facilities (formally Reynolds Aluminum). Fluoride emissions from these facilities were responsible for causing the deaths of cattle in the 1960s and are at least partially responsible for causing the ultimate collapse of the cattle industry in the immediate vicinity of the plants.

Although these industrial sites have closed down, the Air Quality program in cooperation with ALCOA continue to collect vegetation samples to track levels of fluoride that our community is exposed to.


Flouride Study-vegetables, water, and deer jaws (Link to article here)