Fluoride in the water not a problem

 Recently, Sheridan has began to fluoridate its water based on a bill passed in 2010 by the city council, and this has become a heated topic in our community.

  Although some members of the community support water fluoridation, others are worried that the fluoride could cause health issues, and some of these people have gone so far as to restrict their drinking water to bottled water only.

  While fluoride can cause an increased likelihood of bone fractures in adults and an increased chance of tooth enamel wear in children, this is only when a very excessive amount is consumed over a lifetime. The level of fluoride in Sheridan water is actually benefitting bone structure.

  Under the Safe Drinking Water Act passed by Congress in 1974, the EPA is required to determine the highest concentration that a potential water contaminant could exist at before adverse health effects are likely to occur. (Note: the term contaminant simply means any physical, chemical, biological, or radiological substance in water. It does not mean “evil thing that is going to kill us all.”)  For fluoride, this maximum level is 4.0 ppm, and Sheridan’s fluoride level is only 0.7 ppm, which is 82.5 percent less than the government’s standard. Therefore, the dangers of fluoride are not applicable to Sheridan’s water supply.

  Anything consumed at a great enough dose can be toxic. For example, if someone were to eat more than 45 milligrams of iron in one day, he would be at risk for gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, and for cardiovascular, nervous system, kidney, and liver problems. In extreme cases, iron toxicity can result in death.

  The average American consumes approximately 12.5 cereal-based milligrams of iron per day. That’s 72 percent less than the maximum safe level. At 82.5 percent less than the government’s standard, the amount of fluoride in Sheridan’s water is further away from being dangerous than the amount of iron in common cereal. But nobody complains about cereal iron because its so commonplace.

  Other nutrient fortifications that are similar to fluoridation and iron enrichment include iodine in salt, vitamin D in milk, calcium in orange juice, and folic acid in bread.

  Fluoride, like iron, can have great benefits when consumed in moderation. According research supported by the American Dental Association, community water fluoridation prevents at least 25 percent of tooth decay in children and adults, even in people that use fluoridated toothpaste. For most areas, every $1 invested in water fluoridation saves $38 in dental treatment costs, and water fluoridation helps decrease the estimated 51 million school hours lost each year to dental-related illness.

  For those who wish to avoid putting unnatural chemicals in their bodies, fluoride actually occurs naturally in all water sources, including the oceans. Community water fluoridation just adjusts the amount of fluoride so that it reaches a recommended level for preventing tooth decay.

  Fluoridation has been recognized for its public health benefit of  preventing tooth decay by more than 100 U.S. and international health organizations including the World Health Organization, and it has been named one of the 10 great health achievements of the 20th century by the Centers for Disease Control. In the United States, 74.6% of the people served by community water systems received fluoridated water in 2012.

    While I respect the desire to avoid ingesting extra chemicals, most of the people who have this view are coming up with the wrong solutions. It’s okay not to want additives in your water, but spending extra money on bottled water isn’t going to solve anything.

  Bottled water costs 240 to 100,000 times more than tap water and generates excessive plastic waste. These plastic bottles are often produced using bisphenol A, commonly known as BPA. This chemical is an estrogen mimic that can cause brain damage, prostate and breast cancer, early puberty, impaired immune function, type two diabetes, hyperactivity, and increased aggression.

  In addition, bottled water typically contains 25 percent tap water, and up to 40 percent of it is contaminated with bacteria or fungi. Furthermore, governmental standards are higher for tap water than they are for bottled water.

  Those who are trying to avoid fluoridated water by purchasing bottled water are not only spending more money for water that still contains fluoridated tap water, but also putting themselves at risk for contaminated found in both the bottles and the water.

 For those community members who prefer to control their own intake of nutrients, which is a reasonable reason to oppose water fluoridation, the best solution is to purchase a water filter, not to spend extra money on bottle water. Filters fit most price ranges from $15 filter straws to $250 reverse-osmosis filters. Filters are the most effective way to avoid fluoride for those who oppose water fluoridation, and they remove other solvents such as drug residues, metals, and fungus for the ultra cautious.

  Overall, the water fluoridation in Sheridan is in such a moderated concentration that it only causes health benefits, not harm. But for those members of the community who are still wary of water fluoridation despite its health benefits, water filters, not bottled water, are the solution.