A July 23 My Turn column, "Science supports Fluoride" by Marilyn Linsell, argued in favor of fluoridation, in part because "All water naturally contains fluoride. ... Waters in and around the United States have natural fluoride levels that range from 0.1 to more than 12 parts per million." This statement is misleading for the following reasons:
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1) Just because a substance occurs naturally in water doesn't mean it is safe to drink. There are places where arsenic occurs naturally in the water.
2) Naturally occurring fluoride is in the form of calcium fluoride, not hydrofluosilicic acid, which is the form added to our drinking water. This is an industrial waste product from the phosphate fertilizer or aluminum industries.
3) At four parts per million, fluoride exceeds the Environmental Protection Agency's maximum contaminant level and water containing that much is considered unsafe to drink. So if you lived somewhere with 12 parts per million of fluoride in the water, your community would be legally obligated to remove the excess to be in compliance with EPA drinking water standards. Not only that, but the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences after an exhaustive review of health data concluded last year that the four parts per million standard be lowered because this level was not sufficient to protect the public health.
The weight of scientific evidence is moving in the direction of allowing less fluoride in water, not more.