Community Water Fluoridation Facts You Should Know
Almost 70% of the entire population in the U.S. is served with fluoridated water. Find out what it really means and what’s in it for you and your health.
Majority of the U.S. population is being served with fluoridated water. But, what does this mean for you and your health? Read on for community water fluoridation facts you should know of.
All About Fluoride
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found through the earth’s crust and is widely distributed in soil and water. It is also naturally present in food. However, it can also be synthetically produced for various products.
One can be exposed to fluoride through dental products, processed foods, pesticides, tea drinks, fluorinated pharmaceuticals, mechanically deboned meat, Teflon pans, workplace exposure, and mass water fluoridation.
Community water fluoridation is simply the process of adding fluoride to public or community water supply. Back then, the recommended fluoride level added in drinking water ranges from 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter. However, in 2015, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services decreased the recommended level of fluoride in drinking water to only be 0.7 milligrams per liter of water to prevent the side effects of overexposure to fluoride.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided an online public database where people can check the level of fluoride in the drinking water in their state, or if their state is supplying fluoridated water or not.
A Brief History
In the 1930s, a study was made to examine the relationship between tooth decay in children and naturally occurring fluoride in drinking water. Through this study, it was discovered that children who drank naturally fluoridated water had less tooth decay. It was at a time that tooth decay was a huge issue in the U.S.
With the aim to improve the dental health of children, water fluoridation started in 1945. Grand Rapids, Michigan was the first city in the U.S. to fluoridate its water in the early 1950’s. And, true enough, children in Grand Rapids then had fewer cavities than children from nearby areas with no fluoridated water.
Because water fluoridation made a significant contribution to the dramatic decline in tooth decay over the years, this practice has been widespread in the United States since then. As of 2014, 66.3% of the U.S. population received fluoridated water. 74.4% of which are served by community water fluoridated systems.
Risks & Dangers
Although fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral, the type of fluoride most often used in drinking water fluoridation is not. Hydrofluorisilicic acid (HFSA) is an industrial-grade type of fluoride, a toxic industrial waste product that contains trace amounts of lead, arsenic, thallium, cadmium, mercury, and the like. In 2013, citizens even made a petition about the use of HFSA in drinking water systems in the United States due to the health risks HFSA brings to the citizenry of the U.S.
It’s not only the HFSA component in fluoridated water that puts everyone’s health at risk. Too much exposure to fluoride endangers us as well. Because fluoride is added to the community water supply whether people approve of it or not, we are being exposed to fluoride even more. When added up, our exposure to different sources of fluoride can exceed the level deemed safe.
Water fluoridation may have fought cavities, but, the effects of excessive exposure to fluoride must be considered too.
In a 2014 study published on The Lancet, entitled Neurobehavioral effects of developmental toxicity, fluoride has been documented as one of the six new additional developmental neurotoxins together with manganese, chlorpyrifos, tetrachloroethylene, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane.
According to the same study, “developmental neurotoxicity causes brain damage that is too often untreatable and permanent.” This brain damage may result in reduced intelligence or behavior disruption. Developmental neurotoxicity harms and poisons a child’s developing brain and increases the risks of cognitive impairments.
Dental and skeletal fluorosis
Fluorosis, in general, is a chronic condition caused by excessive intake of or overexposure to fluoride. Fluorosis can affect bones and joints, and teeth.
Dental fluorosis is a cosmetic condition where lacy white streaks, specks, or discolorations appear in the enamel of the tooth. It can also appear as stains that range from yellow to dark brown, irregularities on the tooth surface, and noticeable pits.
Skeletal fluorosis is a bone disease where bones harden and become less elastic. It happens when fluoride accumulates progressively in the bone over the years. It can also be associated with osteosclerosis, bone deformities, and tendon calcification.
According to a study published in the Journal of Water and Health, “excessive fluoride concentrations in drinking water have caused ten millions of cases of dental and skeletal fluorosis worldwide over a range of years.”
Endocrine system disruption
Fluoride can get in the way of the body’s normal hormone production, specifically in the thyroid gland. Fluoride binds with its iodine receptors to displace iodine which results in the unhealthy production of thyroid hormones. This can then lead to thyroid problems such as hypothyroidism or hyperparathyroidism.
If the only reason for fluoridating water supply is to fight cavities and similar dental issues, is community water fluoridation worth the above risks?
To mitigate the effects of excessive fluoride exposure and intake, it is a must to be wary of the levels of fluoride in your water supply. Feel free to ask information from your water suppliers about the water you’re being supplied with. You have every right to know what’s in your water to protect yourself and your family from possible health risks.
Seek alternative water sources where you won’t be endangered by excessive fluoride levels. Another option is to defluoridate water for drinking and cooking by using advanced water filtration technologies. Consult an expert or professional to help maintain a healthy level of fluoride in or eliminate fluoride completely from your water supply.
“Water is life, and clean water means health,” says Audrey Hepburn. True enough, the quality of water you drink can affect your health – either negatively or positively. Make sure you’re only being served with a clean and safe water supply. Your supplier should ask for your consent on whatever they plan to add or do with your water supply. It’s your health at risk!
Floralyn Teodoro is a writer of all sorts working for CWR Enviro and other websites. A few of her interests are sustainable living, traveling, and poetry.