A few months back, when Portsmouth resident Rick Horowitz suggested that the City Council study the use of fluoride in the city’s drinking water, he was dismissed by the City Council and derided by some of the region’s public health professionals.
What a difference a few months can make.
On Jan. 8, The Associated Press reported: “In a remarkable turnabout, federal health officials say many Americans are now getting too much fluoride because of its presence not just in drinking water but in toothpaste, mouthwash and other products, and it’s causing splotches on children’s teeth and perhaps more serious problems.”
Detailing the more serious problems, AP reported: “The Environmental Protection Agency released two new reviews of research on fluoride. One of the studies found that prolonged, high intake of fluoride can increase the risk of brittle bones, fractures and crippling bone abnormalities.”
As a result of these findings, The Department of Health and Human Services has proposed a fluoride reduction to 0.7 parts per million in drinking water. The EPA is studying whether to reduce the maximum amount of fluoride allowed in public drinking water, currently 4 parts per million.
The Portsmouth City Council should authorize a similar study (the city water fluoride level is 1.0 parts per million) as Horowitz asked them to do back in November.
Contrary to what public health know-it-alls want you to believe, there is reasonable cause for concern and sufficient evidence about the ill effects of fluoride to warrant a review. Here are three examples from the AP report:
“In 2006, the National Academy of Sciences released a report recommending that the EPA lower its maximum allowable level of fluoride in drinking water. The report warned severe fluorosis could occur at 2 parts per million. Also, a majority of the report’s authors said a lifetime of drinking water with fluoride at 4 parts per million or higher could raise the risk of broken bones.
“In addition, in 2005, the heads of 11 EPA unions, including ones representing the agency’s scientists, pleaded with the EPA to reduce the permissible level of fluoride in water to zero, citing research suggesting it can cause cancer.
“In Europe, fluoride is rarely added to water supplies. In Britain, only about 10 percent of the population has fluoridated water.”
It’s our guess that if the city studies the issue, it will reduce the amount of fluoride going into the public drinking water.
While the debate is largely focused on public health, we also believe there is an important philosophical question to be answered. Why are we involuntarily medicating our population with fluoride? We know that vitamins are good for public health but we don’t add them to drinking water. What makes fluoride so important that we force it on people whether they want it or not?
We also have questions on a common-sense level. When doctors prescribe medications, they take into consideration a patient’s age, size, medical history and current health. Is it really reasonable to believe that infants, healthy adults and fragile seniors all should receive the exact same amount of a given chemical?
We urge the council to study the fluoride issue and further suggest that the next time a citizen like Rick Horowitz comes forward with a reasonable public health concern, he won’t be dismissed in a high-handed manner.