There are serious errors in the following article, particularly:
Statement: Evidence from European countries that use fluoridated water shows that it results in big declines in tooth decay.
Reality: How can one get “big declines” when less than 3% of European countries fluoridate their drinking water? Also, these non-fluoridating countries have lower cavity rates than the US.
Statement: There are also many studies that demonstrate that fluoridation has no bad health effects.
Reality: See the Mother-Offspring studies.
Statement: The World Health Organization recommends that our water contain 0.5 to 1.5 milligrams (mg) of fluoride in each liter…
Reality: The WHO level of 1.5 mg/L is a maximum contaminant level set in 1984 to protect against dental fluorosis. Now that we know that the fetus is the most vulnerable to fluoride’s neurotoxicity, the WHO level is woefully outdated. (EC)
There was recently a discussion in the Arcata City Council about the proposed elimination of fluoride from water delivered to homes. There was also a recent letter to the editor published in the Mad River Union arguing that water fluoridation is dangerous and should be stopped. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine reported that a survey of 1,351 adults across our country reports that 12% believe that water fluoridation is just a way for chemical companies to pollute our water without having to worry about its consequences. There is a lot of scientific research about this subject which is summarized below.
Evidence from European countries that use fluoridated water shows that it results in big declines in tooth decay. It is also true that most of our toothpastes include fluoride to reduce tooth decay. There are also many studies that demonstrate that fluoridation has no bad health effects. Indeed, the World Dental Federation and the World Health Organization have both supported the use of water fluoridation as an effective way to prevent tooth decay.
Many of us and our children have had good dental care and have quick treatments for teeth that are starting to decay. However, across this world tooth decay is a common disease that affects many children especially those in poor families. Bad teeth can affect the ability to eat, how one looks, and cause severe pain. The treatment of tooth disease is also expensive.
An important issue about fluoride in our water is the concentration that is used. The World Health Organization recommends that our water contain 0.5 to 1.5 milligrams (mg) of fluoride in each liter (which is about 1.75 pints). In Humboldt County, the California Water Board reports that our levels range from 0.55 to 0.65 mg in each liter. So, we are well within the level recommended by international organizations.
Fluoride can do damage to humans if its concentration in water exceeds the limits recorded above. Small amounts over the recommended limits can result in dental fluorosis which results in white streaks on some teeth. However, if mistakes in water fluoridation occur that are high above the recommended limits, it can result in nausea, diarrhea and bone troubles. In 1992, part of Alaska was affected by fluoride concentrations as high as 220 mg/liter which is way above the concentration in Humboldt water. The Alaska incident resulted in 262 people becoming ill and one person died.
The presence of fluoride in toothpaste, mouthwash, salt and milk can help to prevent tooth decay. Could this be an alternative to having fluoride in our water? However, not all children or adults use these substances as they should. Putting low amounts of fluoride in our water is one way to ensure that all people will have some protection from tooth decay.
Do we need more science about the uses and consequences of fluoridated water? Yes! There are recent studies that show that concentrations of fluoride in drinking water that were four to five times higher than fluoride concentrations in Humboldt County water do affect the neural development of young children. A national and local argument is that there can often be an ethical conflict between what is good for lots of people and some folks’ rights to make their own choices about what goes into their bodies. I would continue to support the low level of fluoride in Humboldt’s water, and also argue for the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation to support more research about the positive and low level effects of fluoride. Check this website for a long list of health care organizations that support fluoridation of drinking water:
Rollin Richmond is an emeritus professor of biology and emeritus president at Humboldt State University.
*Original article online at https://www.times-standard.com/2020/02/23/science-for-you-about-that-water-fluoridation-debate/