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Water Fluoridation is not a Solution to Pollution for Cities

For the Industrial Waste Industry, Artificial Fluoridation is an ideal "Solution" to Pollution

Only 5% of the world population is fluoridated. More than 50% of these people live in North America. Despite medical/dental pressure, 99% of western continental Europe is not fluoridated. Many countries cite health, legal (civil liberties), or environmental concerns for rejecting, banning, or discontinuing artificial fluoridation. The Danish Minister of Environment recommended against fluoridation in 1977 because "no adequate studies had been carried out on its long-term effects on human organ systems other than teeth and because not enough studies had been done on the effects of fluoride discharges on freshwater ecosystems."(Hilleman B, "FLUORIDATION: Contention won't go away," Chemical and Engineering News, 1988 Aug, 66:31)

Fluoride is a "persistent bioaccumulator." Whatever goes around stays around. According to a 1983 letter written by Rebecca Hanmer, then Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water at the United States Environmental Protection Agency, fluoridation is an ideal solution to pollution:

"In regard to the use of fluosilicic acid as a source of fluoride for fluoridation, this Agency regards such use as an ideal environmental solution to a long-standing problem. By recovering by-product fluosilicic acid from fertilizer manufacturing, water and air pollution are minimized, and water utilities have a low-cost source of fluoride available to them."
In his investigative report "Fluoride: Commie Plot or Capitalist Ploy", medical journalist Joel Griffiths, states:
"Industry and government have long had a powerful motive for claiming an increased dose of fluoride is safe for the population. Maintaining this position has not been easy because, of industry's largest pollutants, fluoride is by far the most toxic to vegetation, animals, and humans."
"Since the 1950s, fluoride as industrial toxin has remained largely unknown to the public, replaced by fluoride as children's friend and creator of beautiful smiles. The 1930s trend toward its removal from the environment has been reversed with a vengeance. For example, in 1972 the newly formed EPA did a survey of atmospheric fluoride polluters. it found that five of the top six typically didn't bother to control their fluoride emissions at all and weren't measuring emissions.46 The most lax was the iron and steel industry, which, according to the report, was also the biggest fluoride emitter.
"And why should these industries worry, as regulatory agencies have maintained--ever since water fluoridation--that industrial fluoride emissions are harmless to humans? As the EPA report stated: `The fluorides currently emitted [by industry] may damage economic crops, farm animals, and materials of decoration [i.e., flowers and ornamental plants and construction [i.e., buildings, statuary and glass]...
`...[H]owever, the potential to cause fluoride effects in man is negligible.'48 Or, as another EPA report puts it, `It is clear that fluoride emissions from primary aluminum plants have no significant effect on human health. Fluoride emissions, however, do have adverse effects on livestock and vegetation.'49 In other words, the stuff withers plants, cripples cows, and even eats holes in stone, but it doesn't hurt people. Nature ever surprises [emphasis added]."

Gritsan NP, Miller GW, Schumatkov GG, Correlation among heavy metals and fluoride in soil, air and plants in relation to environmental damage, Fluoride, 1995, 28:4 180-188

The investigations were conducted at 46 sites in the South-East part of the Ukraine that had different levels of industrial pollution. Concentrations of fluoride and 16 other macro- and microelements were determined in plants (leaves and seeds) and soils to determine if there were any quantitative relationships between levels of these elements and abnormal plant development. Damage criteria such as the frequency of chromosome aberrations in root tips of Robinia pseudoacacia (L) seeds, determination of germination percentage, peroxidase activity of leaves and soils and quantity of microfauna were studied. It was found that among the environmental pollutants, fluoride was most damaging. [emphasis added]

Government of Canada Review

  • Priority Substances List Assessment Report, "Inorganic Fluorides", ISBN 0-662-21070-9, (1993), 1-72, Government of Canada, done pusuant to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), AND
  • Priority Substances List Supporting Document, Inorganic Fluorides, Unpublished Final Draft -- January 1994
The "Synopsis" and some excerpts are below or at skeletal.htm. To distinguish betweeen the two versions, comments from the supporting document will be clearly labeled as "CEPA, Unpublished Final Draft, Inorganic Fluorides".

Inorganic fluorides are used in Canada and emitted into the Canadian environment both from anthropogenic (estimated releases of approximately 23 500 tonnes/year) and natural sources (amounts released are not known). The main anthropogenic sources of inorganic fluorides in Canada include phosphate fertilizer production, chemical production, and aluminum smelting. Approximately 23%, 58%, and 19% of the total inorganic fluorides reported to enter the Canadian environment from anthropogenic sources are released to the air, water, and land, respectively. Gaseous inorganic fluorides (e.g., hydrogen fluoride and sulphur hexafluoride) are primarily released into the atmosphere, whereas particulate compounds (e.g,, sodium fluoride and calcium fluoride) are released into the aquatic and terrestrial environments. Inorganic fluorides have been measured in ambient air, freshwater (including groundwater), seawater, aquatic sediments, soil, and biota throughout Canada, as a result of both natural and anthropogenic sources.

The mean concentrations of inorganic fluoride in ambient air at several locations across Canada (in the vicinity of anthropogenic sources) are within the range of the effects threshold for several sensitive terrestrial plant species. The mean concentrations of inorganic fluoride in the majority of freshwaters and marine waters in Canada in the vicinity of known anthropogenic sources are equal to, or exceed the lowest estimated effects threshold for, freshwater and marine species. The levels of fluoride in vegetation near certain industrial sources are similar to those that may induce adverse effects in sensitive wildlife populations.

Inorganic fluoride compounds (except sulphur hexafluoride) are not expected to remain in the troposphere very long or migrate to the stratosphere. Although sulphur hexafluoride is long-lived enough to migrate into the stratosphere, its contribution to the depletion of stratospheric ozone is considered minimal, Owing to the lack of relevant data, it is not possible to determine the contribution of inorganic fluorides to global climate change.

Based on data on the levels of inorganic fluoride in ambient air, drinking water, food, soil, and household products, the total average daily intakes of inorganic fluoride by various age groups of the general population of Canada have been estimated. These average daily intakes are at least 20% less than the level at which adverse effects upon the skeleton (the end-point considered most sensitive on the basis of available data) are anticipated, derived on the basis of studies in humans.

Based on these considerations, it has been concluded that inorganic fluorides are entering the environment in quantities or under conditions that may be harmful to the environment. There is insufficient information to conclude whether sulphur hexafluoride is entering the environment in quantities or under conditions that may constitute a danger to the environment on which human life depends. It has been concluded that inorganic fluorides (i.e., the fluoride ion derived from such inorganic substances) are not entering the environment in quantities or under conditions that may constitute a danger to human life or health. [emphasis in original]

Joel Griffith's words are worth repeating: "In other words, the stuff withers plants, cripples cows, and even eats holes in stone, but it doesn't hurt people. Nature ever surprises. [emphasis added]."

Introduction to Fluoride, Teeth, and the Atomic Bomb:
... The report offers a glimpse into the history of fluoride, a bio-accumulative toxic that Americans ingest every day. The authors, Griffiths and Bryson, spent more than a year on research. With the belief that the information should be withheld no longer, the authors gave their report to Waste Not, and others, with a short note: "use as you wish."

The science of fluoridating drinking water systems has been, from day one, shoddy at best. As we learn from this report, the basis of that science was rooted in protecting the U.S. Atomic bomb program from litigation. Americans have been convinced that fluoride will save their teeth and we drink more fluoridated water than any other nationality on earth. We learned about the dirty politics involved in the science and selling of fluoridation to a trusting public. We spent three months researching fluoride which resulted in the longest newsletter we've ever produced: Waste Not # 373. We learned that fluoride is a poison that accumulates in our bones. It has been associated with cancer in young males; osteoporosis; reduced I.Q.; and hip fractures in the elderly, to name a few. George Orwell would have been dazzled by the promotion of this toxic by dental and public health officials and concurrently, the avoidance of this issue by the environmental community. We think it has a lot to do with the sordid 50-year history of the promotion of fluoridation by the U.S. Department of Public Health and the American Dental Association. Rather than acknowledge the accumulating evidence of fluoride's threat to human health, they have entrenched themselves in a position that has produced tactics that include the harassment of scientists and dentists who speak out.

Click here for full article
See also The Donora Fluoride Fog: A Secret History of America's Worst Air Pollution Disaster

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Impact of Artificial Fluoridation on Salmon Species in
the Northwest USA and British Columbia, Canada

Foulkes RG, M.D., Anderson AC, P.R.N. Fluoride, 1994, 27:4 220-226,
Research Review, Presented at the XXth Conference of the
International Society for Fluoride, Research,
Beijing, China, September 1994.

SUMMARY: A review of 1iterature and documentation suggests that concentrations of fluoride above 0.2 mg/L have lethal (LC50) effects on and inhibit migration of "endangered" salmon species whose stocks are now in serious decline in the US Northwest and British Columbia. Fluoride added to drinking water,"to improve dental health", enters the fresh water eco-system, in various ways, at levels above 0.2 mg/L. This factor, if considered in "critical habitat" decisions, should lead to the development of a strategy calling for a ban on fluoridation and rapid sunsetting of the practice of disposal of industrial fluoride waste into fresh water.

In the US Northwest, species of salmon using the Snake-Columbia River system, are listed as "endangered". On the North Thompson River of British Columbia, Canada, sperm banks are being employed to preserve salmon species. Proposed water diversion on the Nechako River, in British Columbia, may threaten the internationally important Fraser River fishery. (See Map).

Joseph Cone, writing in the quarterly magazine, The New Pacific, in January 1994, reported that the annual migration of salmon in the Snake-Columbia River system had declined over the past century from an estimated 10-16 million to 2 million in 1991. He pointed out that "the problem is enormously complex-biologically, administratively and economically". His article and reports in the media have stressed the problems with harvesting; loss of habitat through poor forestry practices, livestock and human settlement; and dams built for power and irrigation. Little emphasis is placed on the effects of pollution of water by toxic substances such as fluoride.

The aluminum industry is the chief beneficiary of power dams on the Columbia River System, and it is the fluoride wastes from smelters that first come to mind as sources of fluoride pollution. However, there is another potential source of contamination - the artificial fluoridation of community water supplies for the avowed purpose of improving dental health.

Fluoride and "critical habitat"
In discussions of "critical habitat" for endangered salmon species, all of the possible components must be evaluated. This study examines the possibility that artificial fluoridation of drinking water in communities along the course of salmon rivers is a factor to be included.

"Safe level" questioned
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (1) and the Province of British Columbia (BC) (2) adhere to a "permissible level" of 1.5 ppm (1.5 mg/L) for fluoride discharged into fresh water. BC's "recommended guideline" is currently 0.2 mg F/L; but this does not have the force of legislation. Neither the Minister of the Environment nor the Washington State Department of Ecology requires fluoride estimations for sewer effluent permits as it is considered fluoride is not significantly toxic to aquatic life in concentrations expected in discharges (3,4).

A review of the literature and other documents, such as court transcripts reveals that levels below 1.5 mgF/L have been shown to have both lethal and other adverse effects on salmon. "Evidence" presented by the EPA and other government bodies responsible for the environment suggests that harm can come to aquatic life only at concentrations that far exceed those in discharges from fluoridated cities. Both Groth (5) and Warrington (6) point out that many factors influence susceptibility of fish to fluoride: temperature; water hardness; pH; chloride concentration; and, the strain, age and physiological and reproductive condition of the fish.

Groth points out that there are serious problems with "laboratory" experiments as opposed to "field" studies. In the former, "... many of the organisms tested for fluoride toxicity did not experience effects until levels of fluoride higher than those which might realistically be encountered in the environment were attained." Groth concluded that the finding can be misleading: the techniques of measurement may be inadequate to detect effects, and these may be at the population rather than individual level (5).

There are studies showing the effect of temperature and hardness. Angelovic and others (7) showed lethal effects on rainbow trout related to temperature. Using sodium fluoride at the same degree of hardness (estimated at 44 by Warrington (6)), the 240-h LC50 at 7.2 degrees C was found to be 5.9-7.5 mgF/L; at 12.8 degrees C, 2.6-6.0; and, at 18.3 degrees C, 2.3-7.3 mgF/L. Neuhold (8) reported the same result for 12.8 degrees C and the same degree of hardness. Pimental and Bulkley (9), using a constant temperature of 12 degrees C, found that the 96-h LC50 for rainbow trout with hardness levels, in mg/L, of 17, 49, 182 and 185 was associated with fluoride levels, in mg/L, of 51, 128, 140 and 193 respectively.

Warrington (6) in British Columbia, where the softness of major salmonid water courses is the rule, combined the findings of Angelovic (7), and of Pimental; and Bulkley (9) to calculate that the chronic threshold for rainbow trout at 12 degrees and water hardness of 10 mg/L (calcium carbonate) is 0.2 mgF/L.

In a field study, Damkaer and Dey (10) demonstrated that high salmon loss (Chinook and Coho) at John Day Dam on the Columbia River, 1982-1986, was caused by the inhibition of migration by fluoride contamination from an aluminum smelter 1.6 km above the dam. The average daily discharge of fluoride in 1982 was 384 kg. This was associated, at the dam, with a fluoride concentration of 0.5 mg/L and a migration time of more than 150 hours and a 55% loss. In 1983, discharge was reduced to 107 kg/day. This was associated with a reduction of concentration to 0.17 mgF/L and the migration time to less than 28 hours with a loss of 11%. In 1985, fluoride discharge of 49 kg/day was accompanied by a concentration of 0.2 mgF/L and a salmonid loss of 5%. Damkaer and Dey confirmed the cause-and-effect relationship by means of a two-choice flume for fluoride gradient salmon behaviour tests. These determined that the "critical level'' was 0.2 mgF/L. It is interesting that the Damkaer and Dey study was not available at the time of Warrington's review.

There are other studies that indicate that fluoride at levels below 1.5 mg/L have lethal and other adverse effects on fish. Delayed hatching of rainbow trout occurred at 1.5 mgF/L (11); brown mussels died at 1.4 mgF/L (12); an alga (Porphyria tenera) was killed by a four-hour fumigation with fluoride with a critical concentration of 0.9 mgF/L (13); and, levels below 0.1 mgF/L were shown to be lethal to the water flea, Daphnia magna (14). These latter two studies suggest that salmon species may be affected by fluoride induced reduction of food supply.

Documents used in the Court case involving Meader's Trout farm in Pocatello, Idaho, in 1961 (15) contain evidence that between 1949 and 1950 trout damage and loss was related to fluoride contamination due to rain washing air-borne particles from leaves into hatchery water at levels as low as 0.5 mgF/L.

Therefore, there is evidence that the "safe level" of fluoride in the fresh water habitat of salmon species is not 1.5 mg/L but, 0.2 mg/L. Is this concentration exceeded by fluoridated communities on the banks of water-courses serving as salmon habitat?

Fluoride levels in water and sewer systems
In fluoridated areas, drinking water, obtained from surface water with an average fluoride concentration of 0.1-0.2 mg/L (16), is raised to the "optimal" level of 0.7-1.2 mgF/L by the addition of sodium fluoride, hydrofluosilicic acid, or sodium silicofluoride.

Fluoride, in community drinking water, enters the fresh water ecosystem in various ways. Surface run-off from fire-fighting, washing cars, and watering gardens may enter streams directly or through storm sewers at optimal concentration, 0.7-1.2 mgF/L. Most enters during waste water treatment.

Masuda (17) studied a large number of cities and calculated the concentrations in waste water that were in excess of the concentration present in the cities' water supplies. In raw sewage, this was 1.30 mgF/L; primary treatment reduced this slightly to 1.28 mgF/L; secondary treatment to 0.39 mgF/L. Singer and Armstrong (18) found 0.38 mgF/L in unfluoridated sewage and 1.16-1.25 mgF/L fluoridated sewage.

It is clear that, in the case of artificially fluoridated communities the concentration of fluoride in both surface run-off and sewer effluent exceeds 0.2 mgF/L. The concentration of fluoride in receiving waters depends on a number of factors: background level (i.e., concentration above effluent outlet); concentration of community water before fluoridation: amount of fluoride added; and. the rates of flow of production, discharge, and receiving water.

Studies show that elevated concentrations in fresh water receiving fluoridated effluent may persist for some distance. Bahls (19) showed that the effluent from Bozeman Montana of 0.6-2.0 mgF/L, discharged into the East Galletin River did not return to the background level of 0.33 mgF/L for 5.3 km. Singer and Armstrong (18) reported that a distance of 16 km was required to return the Mississippi River to its background level of 0.2 mg/FL after receiving the effluent of 1.21 mgF/L from Minneapolis-St Paul.

Although dilution reduces concentration over distance, the amount of fluoride in effluent is either deposited in sediment locally or is carried to the estuary where it may persist for 1-2 million years (16) or may re-contaminate if dredging were to take place.

Sewage sludge, a product of secondary treatment systems must contain high concentrations of fluoride. However, this is not measured, routinely, in the jurisdictions that were contacted for this study. This also, when spread on agricultural land, including forests, is a hazard in the "critical habitat" of salmon species. During application, aerosols are created that may be ingested by animals or contaminate surface water. The sludge adds toxic substances to the soil. Fluoride can move into ground water and the run-off of soil particulates may enter streams that play a role in the life cycle of salmon.

Effluent from fluoridated cities is also discharged into tidal waters. Sea water has been shown to have a higher concentration of fluoride than unpolluted surface water (16). This concentration of 1.35-1.4 mgF/L is total fluoride. Ionic fluoride is 0.4-0.7-mgF/L and a similar amount is bound in ionic form to magnesium (20). A more meaningful measure of fluoride pollution in sea water is the ratio of fluorine to chlorine (normally, 10-5:1). Contaminated rivers flowing into an estuary, as well as direct discharge of effluent, can elevate the amount of fluoride. The possible effects on salmon species are left for future review.

More research, especially field study is required. However, from information that is available, 0.2 mgF/L in the fresh water ecosystem in the US Northwest and British Columbia appears to be the appropriate safe level for salmon species rather than 1.5 mgF/L currently accepted. Artificially fluoridated communities discharge fluoride into this ecosystem at levels that exceed this from surface run-off, sewage effluent and, probably, from the agricultural use of sludge. Decreases in water volume and/or flow velocity have the potential to increase fluoride concentration. Increased water temperature will enhance fluoride toxicity. Fluoridation deserves to be looked at as a component of "critical habitat" along with the more publicized factors.

A review of Fluoridation Census 1985 published by the US Department of Health and Human Services (21) shows that along the course of the Snake River from the Idaho-Wyoming border to its junction with the Columbia River in Washington State, there are three water systems fluoridated at 1.0 mgF/L. Eight artificially fluoridated water systems are located on the banks of the Columbia from the Canadian border to the mouth. That is, a total of 11 artificially fluoridated communities are located along the Columbia-Snake River system into which they release fluoride. Does this play a role in the catastrophic decline in salmonid stocks in this once highly productive ecosystem?

The declining salmon returns to the North Thompson, especially of Chinook and Coho, is threatening the existence of species. The City of Kamloops, which contributes run-off and sewage effluent to the North Thompson, is artificially fluoridated. Could this fluoride contribute to migration delay as occurred at the John Day Dam? Could the decline be related to loss of basic feed or hatching abnormalities associated with toxic levels of fluoride? Effluent levels in Kamloops have been measured at 0.6-1.2 mgF/L by employees of the City (personal communication) but no field studies on the effect on salmon species have been carried out.

The Fraser River of British Columbia begins in the Rocky Mountains, north of the origins of the Columbia. The Fraser travels west to the City of Prince George, where it is joined by the Nechako River carrying water from the western portion of the Province. From there, it flows south to enter the Strait of Georgia after it is joined by numerous tributaries, the largest of which is the Thompson River. Prince George, like Kamloops, is artificially fluoridated. Does fluoride from Prince George contribute to reported declines in Chinook and Coho stocks in the Nechako? If the diversion of water from the Nechako River, as proposed in the "Kemano II" hydroelectric project takes place and lowers the water level, slows the flow and raises the temperature of the Nechako Fraser River system, will the fluoride from both Prince George and Kamloops be enhanced in its toxic effects not only on Chinook and Coho but on other salmon species such as the Sockeye upon which fishers of both the US and Canada depend?

The decline in salmon stocks, especially Chinook and Coho, is a major economic problem for both commercial and sport fisheries. "Critical habitat restrictions" are currently (April 1994) being formulated. Fluoride pollution should be included.

There are many questions. But, until evidence to the contrary based on impartially, conducted field studies, is available, the "critical level" of fluoride, in fresh water, to protect salmon species in the US Northwest and British Columbia, should be 0.2 mgF/L. Acceptance of this level would condemn both the direct metering into fresh water of fluoride wastes from such activities as smelting and phosphate fertilizer manufacture and the entry of fluoride after its deliberate addition to community water supplies.

The strategy for eliminating unacceptable levels of fluoride from the "critical habitat" of Northwest Pacific salmon consists in the immediate banning of artificial fluoridation and the rapid sunsetting of the current disposal practices of fluoride-producing industries.

  1. Water Quality Criteria 1972. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Committee on Water Quality Criteria, Environmental Studies Board, 1973;
  2. Recommended BC Health Branch Water Quality Standards. British Columbia Department of Health Services and Hospital Insurance. 1969;
  3. Letter from J O'Riordan, Assistant Deputy Minister, British Columbia Ministry of Environment, 22 July 1993;
  4. Letter from Ray Hennekey, Washington State Department of Ecology. February 23, 1993;
  5. Groth III E. An evaluation of the potential for ecological damage by chronic low-level environmental pollution by fluoride. Fluoride 6 (4) 224-240 1975;
  6. Warrington PD. Ambient Water Quality Criteria for Fluoride. Technical Ap- pendix. British Columbia Ministry Of Environment. 1990;
  7. Angelovic JW, Sigler WF, Neuhold JM. Temperature and fluorosis in Rainbow trout. Journal. Water Pollution Control Federation 33 371-381 1961;
  8. Neuhold JM, Sigler WF. Effects of sodium fluoride on carp and Rainbow trout. Transactions. American; Fisheries Society 89 358-370 1960;
  9. Pimental R. Bulkley RB. Influence of-water hardness on fluoride toxicity to Rainbow trout; Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 2 381-386 1983;
  10. Damkaer DM, Dey DB. Evidence for fluoride effects on salmon passage at John Day Dam, Columbia River, 1982-1986. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 9 154-162 1989;
  11. EIlis MM, Westfall BA, Ellis MD. Determination of Water Quality Research Report 9. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Interior, Washington DC 1938 pp 81-82;
  12. Hemens J: Warvick RJ, Oleff WD. Effect of extended exposure to low fluoride concentration on estuarine fish and crustacea. Progress in water Technology 7 579-585 1975;
  13. Ishio S, Makagawa H (1971). Cited in: Rose D. Marier J. Environmental Fluoride 1977. National Research Council of Canada, Ottawa 1977 p 30;
  14. Dave G. Effects of fluoride on growth reproduction and survival in Daphnia magna. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology 78c (2) 425-431 1984;
  15. US Court Of Appeals, Ninth Circuit (Pocatello, Idaho) No 17059 (1961): Food and Machinery and Chemical Corporation and J R Simplot Co. vs W S and Ray Meader. Exhibit (Table 1) August 25 1961;
  16. Carpenter R. Factors controlling the marine geochemistry of fluorine. Geochemical et Cosmochimica Acta, 33, 1153-1167, 1969;
  17. Masuda TT. Persistence of fluoride from organic origins in waste waters. Developments in Industrial Microbiology, 5, 53-70 1964;
  18. Singer L. Armstrong WD. Fluoride in treated sewage and in rain and snow. Archives of Environmental Health 32 21-23 1977;
  19. Bahls LL. Diatom community response to primary waste water effluent Journal Water Pollution Control Federation 45 134-144 1973;
  20. Miller GW. Effect of fluoride on higher plants. Fluoride 26 (1) 3-22 1993. (Table 1, p 5);
  21. Fluoridation Census 1985. US Department of Health and Human Services. Public Health Service, 1988.

Published by the International Society for Fluoride Research

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Effects of Fluoride on Fish Passage

The published article on the info below is: Damkaer DM, Dey DB, Evidence for Fluoride Effects on Salmon Passage at John Day Dam, Columbia River, 1982-1986, North American J. of Fisheries Management, 9 (1989), 154-162

National Marine Fisheries Service, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, April 1993
The upstream migration of adult spring chinook salmon in the Columbia River has been subject to unusually long delays at John Day Dam. During the spring migration period, average passage times for radio-tagged salmonids at John Day Dam were 158 and 156 hours in 1979 and 1980, respectively. In contrast, average passage time at Bonneville Dam was less than 48 hours and at The Dalles Dam it was less than 24 hours. In addition, passage times for salmonids in the fall of 1982 were twice as long at John Day Dam as they were at The Dalles and McNary Dams. The delay of nearly 1 week at John Day Dam appeared to contribute to increased mortality and may have affected the spawning success of migrating adult salmonids.

Migratory delays at John Day Dam were not decreased appreciably by changes in fishway entrance locations, water discharge volumes or configurations, or turbine operating conditions. The lack of response by migrating salmonids to flow alterations below the dam focused attention on the possibility that something in the water might be causing fish to avoid the fishways and delay their passage.

In 1982, preliminary studies conducted by CZES Division personnel assessed the distributions of many pollutants near John Day Dam. The results of this investigation suggested that the fish-passage delays might be related to contaminants discharged at an aluminum smelter outfall located on the Washington shore 1.6 km upstream from John Day Dam. In particular, high concentrations of fluoride in the vicinity of John Day Dam (0.3-0.5 mg/L in 1982) prompted investigators to focus sampling and research efforts on this contaminant.

In 1983 and 1984, behavior tests were conducted in which over 600 returning salmonids (chinook, coho, and chum, O. keta, salmon) were captured and tested with different concentrations of fluoride in a two-choice flume located in the spawning channel of Big Beef Creek, Washington. The conclusion from these experiments was that the behavior of upstream-migrating adult salmon would be adversely affected by fluoride concentrations of about 0.5 mg/L and that concentrations of 0.2 mg F/L were at or below the threshold for fluoride sensitivity of chinook and coho salmon [emphasis added].

Beginning in 1983 and continuing through 1986, fluoride discharges from the aluminum plant were greatly reduced. This was initially due to modifications in the plant's pollution-discharge system. However, it was also during this period that the Washington Department of Ecology (WDOE) took an active interest in the results of the CZES Division's water quality and behavior tests. The WDOE lowered significantly the discharge limitations for a number of contaminants, including fluoride, in the aluminum plant's wastewater discharge permit. With the reduction in fluoride discharged from the aluminum plant, there was a corresponding drop in fluoride concentrations in the river near the outfall and John Day Dam. Concurrently, fish passage delays and interdam losses of adult salmon decreased to acceptable levels.
references at:
NOAA Tech Memo NWFSC-7, Edited by Douglas B. Dey, Part 4: Environmental Effects