A proposal by Maggie Hart Stebbins, a county commissioner and member of the Bernalillo County Water Board, to resume fluoridation of our municipal drinking water is scheduled for a final vote at a Water Utility meeting Wednesday.
The reasoning behind the proposal is to safeguard the teeth of low-income children who have little or no access to dental care.
However, the overwhelming consensus by dental researchers today is that fluoride’s primary effect is topical, not systemic, and that there is no need to swallow fluoride, especially during infancy and early childhood.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, “fluoride prevents dental caries predominately after the eruption of the tooth into the mouth, and its actions primarily are topical for both adults and children.”
Today, over 95 percent of toothpastes are fluoridated in order to apply fluoride directly to the teeth with the consequence that most of our children receive fluoride from many sources besides tap water.
Dr. Stephen Levy, writing in the Journal of Public Health Dentistry, notes that “children could ingest more fluoride from toothpaste alone than is recommended as a total daily fluoride ingestion.” Bubble gum- and fruit-flavored toothpastes for children contain sufficient amounts of fluoride to kill a child, according to the 2002 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers Toxic Exposure Surveillance System.
Drinking fluoride-laced water will only add to the total fluoride intake of kids with no way to regulate that intake.
It is disturbing that, according to a 1999 national survey by the CDC, about 40 percent of American teenagers show visible signs of fluoride over-exposure or dental fluorosis. Fluorosis is a defect of the tooth enamel caused by fluoride’s interference with the tooth-forming cells in which cloudy spots and streaks or even brown stains and tooth erosion may occur.
Also alarming is the effect of fluoride on IQ in our children. Dr. Philippe Grandjean, senior scientist at the Harvard review, says that the “average IQ deficit in children exposed to increased levels of fluoride in drinking water was found to correspond to about 7 points [difference in IQ] – a sizeable difference.”
If that’s not enough to convince you that adding more fluoride to our water is not good for our low-income kids – or indeed any of our children – consider fluoride’s effect on infants. Babies should only consume a minuscule 10 micrograms of fluoride per day, or what they would get from breast milk.
Babies given fluoridated water in their formula develop significantly higher rates of dental fluorosis and dental researchers now recommend that parents use water that is low in fluoride when mixing formula to feed their baby.
A baby’s developing brain may be another target for fluoride toxicity, according to Environmental Health Perspectives.
Fluoridating all the drinking water in Bernalillo County in order to target a specific group of low-income kids will have unintended consequences for the entire population.
Dr. John Doull, an eminent toxicologist, chaired the National Academy of Science’s review on fluoride, which published a 500-page review in 2006 on fluoride’s toxicity. The report concluded that fluoride is an “endocrine disruptor” and can affect many areas of the body, including the bones, brain, thyroid and pineal gland, and even blood sugar levels.
Please attend the meeting at the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility at 3 p.m. Wednesday at 1 Civic Plaza in the Vincent E. Griego Chambers at basement level.