Fluoride Safety

Some water treatment plants add fluoride to the drinking water for prevention of tooth decay. The Centers for Disease Control has an interesting Fact Sheet on water fluoridation. Generally, one of the following three chemicals is used for fluoridation of public water supplies:

Sodium Fluoride

Sodium fluoride is a white, odorless solid form of fluoride typically used by small water systems. Sodium fluoride may come in 50 lb bags, 125 or 400 lb drums, or 2000 lb sacks.

Be sure to obtain a current Safety Data Sheet for Sodium Fluoride from your chemical supplier before storing or using this chemical. 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also has a Chemical Safety Card  summarizing the qualities and safety issues, as well as a National Institute of Safety & Health (NIOSH) Pocket Guide for Sodium Fluoride.

Personal protective equipment (PPE), including eye and skin protection and respirators should be worn when working with sodium fluoride as per the SDS. Dust from the powder becomes suspended in the air and can cause skin/eye irritation or burns, and if inhaled can irritate the lungs and cause cardiac arrhythmia. Sodium fluoride is highly toxic if ingested and medical attention is needed immediately. 

Sodium fluoride reacts with acids to form a highly toxic gas, so storage must be in appropriate locations away from acids.

Hydrofluorosilicic Acid (Fluorosilicic Acid per AWWA)

​Fluorosilicic acid comes in liquid form. It is usually delivered by tanker truck or in 15 gallon carboys or 55 gallon drums and is the most widely used form of fluoridation.

The Safety Data Sheet for Fluorosilicic Acid must be obtained from your supplier and reviewed thoroughly before use.

The CDC also provides a Chemical Safety Card for Fluorosilicic Acid ​summarizing the chemical properties and hazards.

​Fluorosilicic acid is corrosive, and can cause permanent damage to skin and eyes. Fumes can irritate the respiratory system and cause pulmonary edema. And ingestion is highly toxic and can lead to death. Use of appropriate PPE is essential, as well as adequate respiratory protection.

Fluorosilicic acid is incompatible with metals, glass and strong oxidizing agents and can react violently.

Sodium Silicofluoride

Sodium silicofluoride, similar to sodium fluoride, is a white, dry crystalline powder. Dust from the powder is a hazard with this chemical as well. 

Ensure all employees have reviewed the Safety Data Sheet for Sodium Silicofluoride (obtained from your supplier) before working with this chemical.

Exposure to sodium silicofluoride can cause serious eye and skin irritation, and can damage the heart, lungs and other organs if breathed or ingested. Skin, eye and respiratory protective equipment should be used as per the SDS.

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