To the editor:
Here we go again! I feel it necessary that I again respond to another anti-fluoridation letter in order to set the record straight and counter the comments made by the author (“Elected officials need to address fluoride issue,” Feb. 7) that are again misleading, unsubstantiated and fear mongering.
The author begins by ranting against the reputable American Dental Association (ADA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). With no evidence she accuses both of bullying tactics and scheming in order to coerce municipalities to fluoridate their water supply.
She mentions that the Alzheimer’s Association recently requested that it be removed from the ADA’s list of fluoridation endorsers. She speculates that the decision might be based on recent studies that report possible fluoride toxicity on the brain or fluoride interference with treatment. However, when the Alzheimer’s Association was contacted and asked for a reason for their decision, it responded in a letter stating “At this time there is not sufficient evidence to indicate that fluoride in the water has an impact on Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.” The author therefore makes comments that are not based on fact, but only offers possible unfounded explanations that only serve to support her own beliefs of fluoride toxicity and foster fear and worry in the public. It also is typical of her apparent unwillingness to inquire and attempt to obtain factual information.
She states the Children’s Health Defense has called for an end to the fluoridation policy. This organization has a longstanding reputation of campaigning against vaccinations, fluoride, and other supposed health hazards. One statement by the CHD’s president, a non-scientist, doesn’t make his position valid.
She also states that it has been known since 1995 that the low levels of fluoride exposure present in Cape Ann’s fluoridated water supply is “dangerous to the brains of infants in the womb, bottle fed babies and the elderly” and that it worsens symptoms in people with inflammatory disorders, diabetes, immune diseases, thyroid and kidney disease. I accept that it is the author’s right to express her opinions but reject these declarations that are not based on or supported by fact and sound, reliable, irrefutable scientific evidence.
There are plenty of studies out there that purportedly show damaging effects of fluoride exposure. The studies either are evaluating much higher levels of fluoride exposure or they fail to control for various confounding factors (environmental, social, dietary, genetic, etc.) that frequently affect or impact the results of the studies, since they may be causal in the findings themselves. I challenge the author to provide one scientific study that passes as a truly reliable scientific study supporting her claims.
The author states that “Thousands of Cape Ann residents each spend hundreds of dollars a year” specifically to avoid fluoridated water by purchasing bottled water and filters (how she arrived at this statistic is unknown). Even if partially true, what a shame that their worry and fears are based on the faulty, unproven claims and misinformation of the anti-fluoridationists! I would strongly advise that any such individuals go to the Sawyer Free Library, Reference Room, second floor, and ask for one of the two copies of the ADA’s Practical Guide Series Fluoridation Facts for the general public to read, a very informative and balanced discussion and review of the known benefits and safety issues of low fluoride exposure. I have read it and highly recommend it.
The author also implores our local elected councilors and selectmen to legislate against water fluoridation based on the faulty, baseless remarks and misinformation in her letter. I therefore strongly urge the representatives of government to read the Practical Guide Series Fluoridation Facts before any such action is considered.
David Satcher, M.D., PhD. the former U.S. surgeon general, stated: “for reducing and controlling tooth decay in a community … water fluoridation is a powerful strategy in efforts to eliminate health disparity among populations.” This is a measure of health equity! The CDC proclaimed that community water fluoridation is one of the ten great public health achievements in the 20th century. The American Medical Association, The American Academy of Pediatrics and The World Health Organization all unequivocally support community water fluoridation.
It has been definitely determined that excessive fluoride exposure, especially in infants and young children under the age of 10, can cause fluorosis, resulting in damage to both teeth and bone. However, most dentists will tell you they rarely see anyone with dental fluorosis and, when they do, it’s very mild.
Fluoride is a natural mineral. (The author erroneously refers to fluoride as a “drug”). It along with calcium and vitamin D promotes good teeth and bone formation. The very low level of fluoride in Cape Ann’s municipal water is only 0.7 mg/liter (or less than 1 part per million). The amount of fluoride exposure or consumption that has been shown to be harmful in prior studies in adults is greater than 10 mg/day. This would indicate that an adult would have to drink more than 15 quarts of water daily to reach the harmful amount (infants and small young children would have to drink more than 1-to-3 quarts daily to reach a harmful level of fluoride ingestion, depending on their weight and age)! Bottled drinking water and spring water have been shown to contain levels of fluoride between 0.1- 0.94 mg/liter, since fluoride is present in natural and spring water.
I hope that this reply letter reassures everyone of the benefits and safety of water fluoridation on Cape Ann and dispels any fear or worry one may have due to baseless claims and comments regarding its supposed and unfounded dangers. We must continue to provide the benefits of water fluoridation for everyone in our community!
Richard C. Gardner, M.D.