High naturally-occurring fluoride necessitates treatment at several wells
The city of Española does not add fluoride to its public water distribution system as the area’s water supply has naturally-occurring levels of the chemical that are above the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recommended levels.
According to the New Mexico Environment Department’s website, the concentration of fluoride in Española’s drinking water ranges from 4-15 mg/l or 4-15 parts per million (ppm), which is well above suggested healthy levels. The EPA recommends that public water systems maintain levels of 0.5-1 ppm of fluoride concentration and has set the maximum contaminant level, which would cause negative health effects, at 4 ppm.
Public Works Director Marvin Martinez said the city treats its public drinking water by reducing the concentration of naturally-occurring fluoride down to EPA-recommended levels by blending the water with various non-hazardous chemicals and water specific to each city well. Fluoride levels throughout the city’s water system range from below recommended levels to as much as four times the suggested amount, so water from wells with a high concentration of naturally-occurring fluoride is blended with water from wells with low amounts of the natural contaminant.
“We blend the water from one well with another well which brings the level down right below 1 ppm,” he said. “We do not add fluoride to our city water.”
The subject of fluoride in municipal water systems has become a hotly-debated issue in Santa Fe and Albuquerque the past few months. Councils for both cities have flip-flopped on whether or not to add fluoride to their public drinking water. The fluoride concentration in both Santa Fe’s and Albuquerque’s water systems are below the EPA’s recommended levels, so the municipalities had been adding fluoride to their systems.
The debate on adding fluoride to water is not limited to New Mexico’s largest municipalities. Scientists and researchers both for and against the issue have published numerous studies showing the health benefits as well as the consequences of treating water with fluoride.
According to the EPA website, some municipalities voluntarily add fluoride to their drinking water to prevent cavities and tooth decay. Studies have shown that fluoride can benefit oral health when used topically, like when the dentist gives a patient a cup of fluoride-rich water to swish around their mouth. The patient then spits the fluoride cocktail into a bowl or drain; they do not consume it.
Professor Philippe Grandjean and research scientist Anna L. Choi of Harvard University (Mass.), along with medical researchers Guifan Sun and Ying Zhang of China Medical University, in a study conducted earlier this year, found that fluoride can be linked to lower IQ’s in children.
The researchers, whose findings were published in Environmental Health Perspectives, and who discussed their analysis in a September issue of Digital Journal, concluded “Children in high fluoride areas had significantly lower IQ scores than those who lived in low fluoride areas. The results suggest that fluoride may be a developmental neurotoxicant that affects brain development at exposures much below those that can cause toxicity in adults.”
According to the Harvard/China medical team, fluoride ions can pass through the placenta fairly easily, reaching a developing fetus while still in the womb, causing delayed brain development and an increased likelihood of mental deficiencies.
Natural News takes an aggressive stance against fluoride in community water. According to the Natural News website, ingesting fluoride in drinking water can lead to arthritis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypersensitivity, kidney disease, teeth discoloration and acute toxicity. Other arguments against water fluoridation are that the process violates citizens’ rights to informed consent to medication; some people may be more vulnerable to fluoride effects than others based on weight and diet; municipalities cannot track each resident’s response to the fluoridated water; and that the process violates the Nuremberg Code for human experimentation.
The National Research Council in 2006 published a report recommending the EPA lower its maximum allowable level of fluoride in tap water from 4 ppm to 2 ppm, citing that the 4 ppm level of fluoridated water can cause teeth discoloration and increased susceptibility to skeletal fluorosis and bone fractures in children. However, the report did not prompt the EPA to modify its allowable levels of fluoride in drinking water in any way.
For more information on Española’s public drinking water, contact the Water Department at (505) 753-6880.