Friday, June 17, 2011

Water Fluoridation? I Don’t think So.

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Water Fluoridation? I Don’t think So.

The United States government considers water fluoridation one of public health’s “great wonders” (Newman, WSJ). However, this view is not shared by all. For the past 7 years, Darlene Sherrell has lead a campaign to both stop the fluoridation of U.S. water supplies and inform the public of the harsh realities of fluoridation. There have been many studies conducted that analyze the different effects of water fluoridation. Based on these studies, it appears that any benefits of fluoridation will not warrant its continuation in the United States due to the ill effects fluoridation has on the environment, the potential health risks it brings, and the insincere intentions of its supporters.

Fluoridated water appears to be harmful to the environment. The more frequently fluoridated water is used today, the greater the amount of contaminated water that will run into our nation’s vital groundwater and flow into the streams and lakes that nourish our plants and animals. As this water becomes infected with fluoride, a domino effect could be set in motion that would cause the mutual destruction of many species. Salmon, for example, are a species that is already suffering from being over fished. In order for these fish to spawn and recover, they must be in fluoride-free streams. The slightest presence of fluoride in their waters makes it impossible for them to reproduce. Because of fluoride contamination, not only would the salmon die off, but bigger birds and other animals that depend on salmon as a staple meal would also be negatively effected (Ritchie, WSJ letter).

Just as we should be wary of the harmful effects fluoridation has on animals and their habitats, we should also be cautious of the possible damaging effects that could be done to our pristine waters. Water is fundamental to our human existence and a source of homeland pride for many people living in rural locations like Tumwater and Lacey, Washington (Ritchie, WSJ letter). If we allow fluoridated water to infect these “artesian reserves,” we will be unable to appreciate, extract, or re-use our ground water when it is needed in the future. This is a precaution that can not be overlooked.

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Since the fluoridation of U.S. water supplies non-selectively exposes the American public to fluoride, we must also take precautions to closely monitor its effects on public health. Those who support fluoridation claim that fluoride improves dental hygiene by protecting the public’s teeth from decay. However, numerous Center for Disease Control studies found fluoridation did not in fact significantly reduce tooth decay. The injurious effects of excess fluoride dominated.

Darlene Sherrell, in her article “Rethinking Fluoridation,” reported that, “communities in 16 states…observed disfiguring stains and pits in their children’s teeth from [just] the naturally occurring fluoride in water” (Rethinking Fluoridation). If we imagine what the effects would be if additional fluoride were added to this water, it would not be surprising to know that the Center for Disease Control reports that 80% of children suffer from dental fluorosis (Schuld, WSJ letter). Fluoridated tap water is a main source of fluoride exposure for these children. Dr. Hardy Limeback, a fluoride consultant to the CDA and Canada’s leading expert on fluoride warns of the dangers of merely swallowing tap water and suggests that people only swish the water in their mouths and immediately spit it out (Downey, WSJ letter). As the case possibly was with these children, swallowing tap water increased their fluoride intake and this excess had harmful on their health. The physical harm that comes from ingesting too much fluoride is real. In fact, a study in The New England Journal of Medicine confirmed a correlation between fluoride ingestion and hip fractures. Another set of studies performed between 10 and 17 by the Institute of Sustainable Futures found there was a higher rate of bone fractures in fluoridated regions like the United States than in unfluoridated regions like Europe (Downey, WSJ letter). The long list of potential health risks that accompany fluoridation includes dental fluorosis, tooth mottling, osteoporosis, arthritis, lower back pain, heart burn, stomach cramps and diarrhea.

We have seen how damaging fluoridation can be to the environment as well as to people’s health. However, there are still scientists and governments who wholeheartedly support fluoridation. In many cases, it appears these fluoridation advocates support the cause for the wrong reasons and actively ignore its harmful effects. For example, Dr. Hodge, one of the original supporters of fluoridation, set the first standard of a safe fluoride dosage at 0 to 80 milligrams a day. Despite the fact that his measurements were incorrect, his initial motives for supporting fluoridation are questionable. During the years in which he performed this study, Dr. Hodge was an Atomic Energy Commissioned scientist. His job was specifically to aid in the defense against a number of lawsuits brought by United States citizens who had been exposed to fluoride spills at the AEC’s WWII uranium production plants (Sherrell). Soon after he released the fluoride safe-dosage figures, he used his findings to make a case for instituting the use of fluoride as a dental treatment. It is quite possible that Dr. Hodge was originally motivated to conduct the fluoridation study with the hope of undermining the validity of the claims brought by United States citizens.

The incorrect fluoride dosage set by Dr. Hodge remained in use for forty years during which time the United States government was a leading supporter of fluoridation. It seems that to this day the government justifies their support of this destructive process through a policy of viewing fluoridation problems with their “eyes wide shut.” The government has constructed a set of rules and boundaries that allow them to look directly through any fluoridation difficulties. For example, cases of Crippling Skeletal Fluorosis (CSF) are showing up across the country, but this disease is conveniently not listed as a “reportable disease” in the United States and therefore the government dose not need to address CSF outbreaks as serious problems (Sherrell). Due to these strict definitions of a “definable diseases,” the American Dental Association has only had to recognize a mere five cases of CFS in the last 5 years (Newman, WSJ). Advocates of fluoridation go on to divert attention away from the real problem and argue that “no charge against the benefits and safety of fluoridation” has ever been published in a scientific journal or accepted as general scientific knowledge (Newman, WSJ). While this is a founded defense of fluoridation, the scientific journals they are relying on to justify their beliefs are the same scientific journals that reported for 40 years the safe dosage of fluoride to be 0-80 milligrams per day as opposed to the correct safe dosage of -8 milligrams per day.

Even when the correct safe daily dosage of fluoride is known, the given evidence clearly indicates that we should rethink our decision to fluoridate U.S. water supplies. Not only does fluoridated water contaminate and harm the environment, pollute groundwater and fail in achieving its goal of reducing tooth decay, but it actually inflicts larger and more detrimental physical problems upon those it is supposedly treating. Furthermore, the leading supporters of fluoridation do not appear to be interested in the real issues of fluoridation themselves but rather in fulfilling their personal, political, economic, or social agenda for which fluoridation is the vehicle. Although it may remain a mystery why fluoridation is considered “one of public health’s great wonders,” it should now be quite clear why in the best interest of our environment, our health, and the preservation of our world, fluoridation of the United States public water supplies, must come to an end.

Works Cited

Downey, Michael. “Letter to the Editor of the Wall Street Journal.” Wall Street Journal. 0 Apr. 000.

“Fluoride, Yes.” Cumberland Times-News. 1 Mar. 000.

Newman, Berry. “Lonely Causes � Redbait and Switch The Far Right Warred Against Fluoride; Now It’s the Lefties’ Turn.” Wall Street Journal. 1 Apr. 000.

Ritichie, Judy. “Letter to the Editor of the Wall Street Journal.” Wall Street Journal. 0 Apr. 000.

Sherrell, Darlene. “Rethinking Fluoridation.” Earth Island Journal. (Spring, 18) 40-41.

Schuld, Andreas. “Letter to the Editor of the Wall Street Journal.” Wall Street Journal. 0 Apr. 000.

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