We are approaching the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District release of the engineering report that will reveal the costs of potentially expanding community water fluoridation (CWF) to a handful of surrounding communities. Manila will be the first of those communities to let its citizens have a choice when they vote on February 5th.
A January 2008 Scientific American Magazine article, “Second Thoughts about Fluoride” by Dan Fagin, highlights some of the serious concerns of those who have studied the effects of ingesting too much fluoride. Of note, Dr John Doull, Phd, the chairman of the 2006 National Academy of Science (NAS) panel that produced the Fluoride in Drinking Water report, mentions his concern about the influence of fluoride on the thyroid gland and how little we actually know about the health effects of CWF after all these years [article excerpted at Ref. 1 below]. Dr. Ted Schettler, MD, MPH, shared similar concerns about increased risk of mental impairment in the offspring of iodine deficient mothers due to fluoride exposures in an article written for Rachel’s Democracy and Health News Network [ see Ref. 2]. Potential neurotoxic risks are enumerated in a position paper by Dr. Robert Isaacson, Phd, one of the primary authors of the Neurotoxicity and Neurobehavioural Effects chapter of the 2006 NAS report [see Ref. 3]. Highly credentialed and credible authorities think that there are serious potential health risks associated with unmonitored exposures to fluoride that dictate the need for further research.
We may be certain that our environmental scientists and toxicologists at the CA/EPA are looking at potential thyroid and brain effects as they are currently reviewing the CA Public Health Goal (PHG) for fluoride in water, their first fluoride risk assessment since 1997. The public comment period will open sometime after this summer with the release of their draft risk assessment. Whether the science is rigorous enough to make disruption of the thyroid gland the reason for a downward revision of that PHG remains to be seen. The current (Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) at 2ppm was determined in 1997 using moderate dental fluorosis as the most critical adverse health effect (or endpoint). The PHG was set at 1ppm, utilizing a controversial safety margin of one. With new laws mandating larger margins of safety for the most vulnerable members of the population to fluoride’s toxicity, a new PHG report author, and a wealth of new toxicity data (see 2006 NAS report: http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11571 ), it is reasonable to expect that the PHG for fluoride in water will be lowered. Before McKinleyville and other potential water district customers invest heavily in expanding CWF, waiting for this summer’s risk assessment draft seems both wise and fiscally responsible.