Have you ever wondered why Pasadena’s tap water tastes different from your favorite bottled water at the store or from the ice cold cooler at the office?
Chances are it could be the fluoride that the City adds to our drinking water. Although there is a medical consensus world-wide that adding the compound to water at appropriate levels is a safe and effective means to prevent tooth decay, skeptics say the chemical is a neurotoxin that may be linked to causing brain damage and long term health problems.
Last week, Pasadena Water and Power released their 2016 Consumer Confidence Report of Water Quality to assure residents that the 27 million gallons of water it dispenses daily is not just safe to drink — it’s good for you.
“The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has not recognized claims that low-level fluoride exposure is linked to occurrences of cancer, brain damage or osteoperosis,” according to a statement from the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) who supplies drinking water to Pasadena Water and Power.
Fluoride is most commonly associated with dental products like toothpaste, but it is also a naturally occurring element found in the groundwater used by municipalities nationwide including the City of Pasadena.
Fluoride has been added to U.S. drinking water supplies since 1945 after fluoride’s benefits for teeth were discovered by scientists who saw extremely low tooth decay rates among people whose water supplies had a significant amount of natural fluoride.
Before drinking water is delivered to your home or business tap, the fluoridated water is blended with PWP’s ground water, according to the Metropolitan Water District.
“Most water has some naturally occurring fluoride in it. It’s very, very rare that you see a water system with excessively high levels,” explained Edgar Dymally, Senior Environmental Specialist at Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
If there is already fluoride in our water, then why add more?
“Fluoride at a certain concentration can be beneficial to human health principally in strengthening the lattice structure of the teeth and thus you have the practice for drinking water fluoridation,” explained Dymally.
The practice of water fluoridation is centered around the natural level, also known as the optimal level, and is considered to be approximately .7 milligrams per liter, according to Dymally who said that public health officials determined the number.
The average natural fluoride amount found in local aquifers is around .2 milligrams per liter.
“At this range, fluoride has been proven to be effective in preventing tooth decay,” according to the PWP report.
The American Dental Association estimates that the lifetime cost per person to fluoridate a water system is less than the cost of one dental filling.
“If you have some above that level, it’s not considered harmful,” said Dymally.
Fluoride opponents such as the Fluoride Action Network cite studies showing that high levels of fluoride have been linked to a number of negative health effects like bone fractures, thyroid disorder and impaired brain development and function, according to Live Science.
One of those studies published in 2012 in the Journal of Environmental Health found a link between high fluoride levels found naturally in drinking water in China and elsewhere in the world and lower intelligence Quotients (IQ) in children.
The study analyzed the results of 27 separate studies in which 26 of them showed links between high fluoride drinking water and lower IQ.
About two-thirds of the U.S. population has fluoridated public water, according to the CDC.
“Typically when you go above the optimal level it tends to be an issue not so much for health reasons, but for aesthetic reasons,” explained Dymally about a condition called fluorsis which causes browning of the teeth.
As of 2010, 41 percent of kids ages 12 to 15 had some form of dental fluorosis, according to the CDC.
Fluoride’s ability to damage the brain is one of the most active areas of fluoride research today. Over 300 studies have found that fluoride is a neurotoxin, according to the Fluoride Action Network.
In 2006, the National Research Council (NRC) stated that “it is apparent that fluorides have the ability to interfere with the functions of the brain.”
Pro-fluoridation supporters say that the process is “safe and effective” for reducing cavities, particularly in poor children.
Water fluoridation is endorsed by the American Medical Association, the American Dental Association and the CDC who reports that tooth decay has declined in the United States since fluoridation began.
However, it has also declined in other countries that do not fluoridate, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Water is fluoridated in 29 of the 30 largest cities. The exception is Portland, Oregon which defeated a plan in 2012 to add fluoride to the public water supply.
Households that want to opt out from drinking fluoridated water can install what’s called a point of use device that attaches to sink faucets or can be installed underneath sinks to filter out fluoride in tap water.
“It takes the water that you drink and treat it and then it essentially removes most if not all of the fluoride. That is an option or you can consume bottled water,” said Dymally.
To see the 2016 Consumer Confidence Report of Water Quality and to learn more about water fluoridation in Pasadena, visit http://www.cityofpasadena.net/waterandpower/WaterQualityFAQ/
*Original article online at http://www.pasadenanow.com/main/city-report-says-pasadenas-drinking-water-is-safe-good-for-you/#.WXSfL4qQzBI