We keep hearing about our greenness. Here in Sacramento we have a tree program, various recycling programs, and other earth friendly initiatives. But can one policy trump all this? Can a city be truly green when it knowingly adds toxic chemicals imported from China to its drinking water? And to top it all, 99.99% of it is wasted. Lets look at the facts as the Sacramento Department of Utilities has presented them.
Questions came up at a June 22, 2010 Sacramento City Council budget hearing. This resulted in a request for additional information regarding the city’s water fluoridation program. On July 1st Marty Hanneman, Director of Utilities sent the Mayor & City Council members a memorandum. It detailed the costs, chemicals used in, and ongoing maintenance related costs among other things, of the Sacramento Water Fluoridation program. This memorandum also highlighted the vast waste inherent in the delivery of the fluoride drug. Members of Fluoride Free Sacramento obtained a copy of this memo.< 1 >
The memorandum detailed the approximately $1 million annual cost to the department. Part of this cost is purchasing is the chemicals use, namely Sodium Fluoride & Fluorosilicic Acid. Another aspect is how the corrosive nature of the fluoridation chemicals are literally dissolving away very expensive equipment. This necessitates ongoing costly equipment repairs and replacement of the drug dosing equipment. For example, the E.A Fairbairn Water Treatment Plant currently required a $450 million infrastructure upgrade, and the Sacramento River Water Treatment Plant’s fluoridation system will be due for replacement as well in 2014.
Now about those chemicals. The California Code of Regulations, title 22 < 2 > lists 791 chemicals as “Hazardous Waste,” 39 of these are fluoride compounds. The memo lists two of these chemicals that are used for drinking water fluoridation in Sacramento; Hydrofluosilicic Acid and Sodium Fluoride. These are also not to be confused with the pharmaceutical quality fluoride in products, such as toothpaste, and mouthwash. Fluorosilicic Acid is a byproduct of the phosphate fertilizer industry. It contains levels of lead, arsenic and other heavy metals.< 3 > This is very toxic stuff by any standard.< 4 > Recent studies of fluoride use indicate a link to bone cancer, bone fractures, thyroid disorder, lowered IQ and more.< 5 >
With regards to the waste factors involved, consider where the drug ends up. The sole intended target group is defined as children under five years of age. Parents please see note below. According to city calculations, less than 0.009% of fluoridated water produced is potentially consumed by this target group. In other words, over 99.99% of the fluoride is not even used by those that are supposed to need it, but is wasted by watering the lawn, dish washing, flushed down the drain, etc. In the memo, the Mr. Hanneman makes the analogy of taking one gallon of milk, using six drops of it and pouring the rest of the gallon in the sink. This waste process has also been shown to negatively effect life downstream.< 6 >
The sourcing of the chemicals is also not green at all, as in they are routinely shipped in from China and Japan.
To recap the whole process: Ship in toxic chemicals from outside the country, then dump down the drain. This is water fluoridation in a nutshell. Is there a green option? You tell me.
Note to parents; For health reasons, babies one year and under are to avoid all fluoride as recommended by the the American Dental Association and the Center for Disease Control.< 7 > This would mean avoiding all processed food and juices, as these are commonly made with fluoridated water.