The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.
Here at MU, our water is fluoridated. Alarming as it should be, this fact is unsurprising when we consider that in the U.S., nearly 75 percent of Americans have access to fluoridated water supplies. Indeed, the acceptance of water fluoridation is rampant and apparently salubrious, supported by more than 100 national and international health groups and cited by the American Public Health Association as having “health and economic” benefits.
All this is despite a profound lack of reliable studies confirming the safety of current water fluoridation methods, growing opposition to the practice in general and the fact that even the Environmental Protection Agency Headquarters Professionals’ Union opposes fluoridation entirely, citing it as an “unreasonable risk.”
So, who’s right? Well, if we look closer, it becomes clear that the APHA is being truthful when it claims the “health and economic” benefits of water fluoridation. The real question is: What’s benefitting more, consumer health or industrial economy?
Unfortunately, it’s the latter. The result of the largest survey conducted in the U.S. about the effects of fluoride concluded there was only a tiny difference in tooth decay among children who had lived all their lives in fluoridated compared to non-fluoridated communities. In fact, the difference was too small to be considered clinically or even statistically significant. So, there are evidently very little consumer health benefits.
On the other hand, the weight of consumer risk is astounding. There is a mountain of scientific evidence concluding that prolonged exposure to fluoridated drinking water has considerable safety precautions. Among them is an accumulation of fluoride in our bones, resulting in an increased risk of bone fracture, an accumulation in our pineal gland (possibly lowering the production of very important regulatory hormones), lower fertility rates and even lower IQs.
Not to mention most major dental researchers concede fluoride’s benefits are topical, not systemic, which means fluoridated toothpaste works just fine in preventing cavities. Therefore, fluoridated drinking water is simply unnecessary.
Considering all of this, it’s no wonder most of the developed world rejects public water fluoridation. Dr. Arvid Carlsson, recipient of the 2000 Nobel Prize for Medicine, stated he is “quite convinced that water fluoridation, in a not-too-distant future, will be cosigned to medical history.”
So as far as scientific evidence goes, consumer health benefits are very minimal while risks remain very large. What about industrial economic benefits?
Well, the main chemical added to water, hexafluorosilicic acid, is actually a byproduct of the fertilizer and aluminum industries, sold to municipalities for water fluoridation and — it’s important to note — is not the pharmaceutical grade sodium fluoride used in toothpaste. It is an unpurified, industrial-grade corrosive acid, which has recently been linked to increased levels of lead in the blood of children. Due to its toxicity, this chemical is also pretty expensive to dispose of otherwise and would end up costing the industry something to the tune of $600 million per year. And no, I am not making this up.
So industrialists face a simple budget measure: Pay $600 million every year to properly dispose of a hazardous byproduct or sell it to municipalities willing to inject it into their water supply? Suddenly the picture becomes clearer, and the relationship between the aluminum and fertilizer industries and regulators becomes more questionable.
But I digress: I am no conspiracy theorist. Regardless of an individual’s stance on the safety of fluoridated water, perhaps the strongest case against fluoridation is the same one cited by the vast majority of Western Europe that doesn’t fluoridate their water: It violates the individual’s right to informed consent of medication, a key tenet of medical ethics.
One could argue that if it was even necessary to swallow fluoride, a safer and more cost-effective approach would be to provide a fluoridated water service company, allowing the quality and dose of the fluoride to be controlled while maintaining the individual’s right to informed consent of medication. Plus, since everyone seems to like fluoride, there’s probably a pretty penny in there.
Nevertheless, for better or for worse (but let’s be honest — it’s for worse), the fluoride flows. I’m of the contention, however, that it won’t be for long.
Water news archives-330 articles-March~October 2012: click here
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