When we think about fluoride we immediately associate it with dental products, “Oh yeah, that’s the stuff they put in toothpaste isn’t it?” While true, this is not the only source of the substance. Most natural drinking water and nearly all food have trace levels of fluoride in them. What’s more, in the U.S. approximately 50% of our population drinks water that has had fluoride intentionally added to it. The reason: proponents of fluoridation and the ADA (The American Dental Association) specifically, have shown that fluoride, when ingested or added to dental products in the right amount, reduces the incident of tooth decay. Notice that I said in the right amount. I’m not going to get into the debate of whether fluoridation is good or bad. Like many things in life, a little of something may be good, and a lot may be bad. Nuff said.
This whole subject has been controversial for more than 60 years. For an in-depth report on this subject I refer you to the August 1st 1988 C&E News Special Report “Fluoridation of Water” written by Bette Hileman. You may find the report through a web search or at your local library. While a little old, it contains a lot of very good information, both pro and con.
Fast forward to 2012. It seems that this topic is now coming back around. What we thought were proper levels back then, are now being re-assessed and it is generally believed the acceptable or beneficial amount of fluoride in drinking water should be lowered. Well, that’s not much of a problem for cities or towns that intentionally add it to their water; they will simply dial back the dose. But what about the estimated 15% of our population (43 million people) that get their water from private wells? How do they know if they have a safe level of fluoride?
Well, the answer lies with the agency in your particular state that is responsible for your drinking water. This is a great resource to find out about “What’s in your Water.” I didn’t say “wallet”, but it could be if your level is too high and you need to do something about it. An excellent example of the type of information that is available can be found at: www.epa.ohio.gov/ddagw/gwqcp pubs.aspx. You can just click on the fact sheet for the short version (about three pages) or the full report (10 pages). Your state may have a similar site. Or, if you are really concerned, have your water tested by an accredited lab, that way you will know exactly where you stand.
Contact Ed R.