Since the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District began fluoridating our water in 2005, new scientific information has become available regarding health concerns about fluoride. Along with several others, I spoke to the District’s commissioners at their May 19 meeting to highlight some of these developments, referencing parts of the January article in Scientific American, “Second Thoughts about Fluoride.”
In 2006, The National Research Council (NRC) reported strong evidence linking fluoride, which is more toxic than lead, to bone fracture, joint pain and damage to teeth. The NRC recommended further studies after noting that fluoride may trigger bone cancer and damage to the brain and thyroid. The EPA was advised to lower the current 4 ppm fluoride standard in drinking water, yet it has still not established a new safe level. Lower levels of fluoride are currently used in fluoridation programs, but several NRC panel members have since stated that even these levels fail to adequately protect a diverse population.
There is concern among these scientists that we are ingesting too much fluoride because of its prevalence in foods, beverages and dental products — in addition to our drinking water. Some adults and children also drink more water than the average. The dose of fluoride simply cannot be controlled. In 2005, the Centers for Disease Control stated that 32 percent of American children have some form of dental fluorosis (permanent scarring of the teeth) from ingesting too much fluoride.
Of critical significance is the NRC’s conclusion that infants and young children ingesting fluoridated water receive twice the fluoride they should. As a result, major medical and dental organizations now advise that infants avoid fluoridated water.
We also addressed fluoridation’s impact on us personally: exacerbation of health problems and chemical sensitivities; children’s low self-esteem due to dental fluorosis; denial of our personal right to choose; and significant financial costs to remove fluoride since this cannot be accomplished with simple charcoal filters.
Due to the above concerns, we asked the commissioners to stop adding fluoride to our water. However, they responded that since the Seattle water that is occasionally mixed with our well water is already fluoridated, legally they are required to add additional fluoride to maintain a constant level.
If the District is legally bound to fluoridate, then it has a responsibility to inform its customers about possible health concerns, particularly regarding infants. Thus far, the commissioners have felt this is the responsibility of health professionals. Too often, however, the health professionals themselves are not current on the latest information, or they erroneously assume other health professionals will relay the appropriate warnings.
This unfortunately has happened too often with the infant fluoride advisory. Rarely do mothers take their infants to the dentist and receive this necessary information. And pediatricians often don’t think — if they even know about the advisory — to relay information that seems more a dentist’s responsibility. So there is a huge information gap that doesn’t get filled by anyone, and parents unknowingly continue to give their infants fluoridated water.
We feel that the commissioners should step in and fill this information gap regarding fluoride and infants. As the fluoridating agency, they are best positioned to convey this critical information to parents and caregivers, and it would be a simple matter to include an infant fluoride advisory notice in each water statement. They owe it to their littlest customers.
Linda Joy is a Sammamish member of Washington Action for Safe Water (WASW). WASW provides information on the current science regarding fluoride’s toxicity, health risks, and effectiveness. Linda can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on fluoride, visit www.fluorideaction.org.