My Turn: Representing all sides in water fluoridation debate

Posted: Sunday, August 05, 2007

I'm not sure whether or not this has been touched upon yet, but I would like to discuss the fluoridation of the city's water. I hear arguments from two out of the three sides to the issue.

Sound off on the important issues at

A) Fluoridate the city's water supply for those who can't get their kids to brush their teeth and those who can't afford dental work.

B) Don't fluoridate the city's water supply because those who prefer to get fluoride treatments at the dentist shouldn't have to pay for others' lack of parental skills when it comes to teaching proper dental hygiene.

The third unheard from view:

C) Don't fluoridate the water because the chemicals are so toxic that city employees would be risking their lives or possibly pass on unseen illnesses to their children just by monitoring and maintaining fluoride levels in the water supply.

Are the people in group A so thoughtless, uncaring and selfish to the point they don't care who gets sick - be it the city employees doing the work or their children - all so the poison can be shared equally throughout the city?

Three chemicals are used in water fluoridation; they are fluorosilicic acid, sodium fluorosilicate and sodium fluoride.

Fluorosilicic acid is the most commonly used additive for water fluoridation, followed by two dry additives - sodium fluorosilicate and sodium fluoride. Fluorosilicic acid is derived from production of phosphate fertilizers. The apatite ore (a type of limestone) is mixed and heated with sulfuric acid to form a phosphoric acid-gypsum slurry, the starting point to make pelletized phosphate fertilizers.

The hydrogen fluoride and silicon tetrafluoride that would otherwise be released to the atmosphere or left in the gypsum slurry is deliberately recovered from the slurry by evaporators and condensed to fluorosilicic acid that can be used for the water fluoridation process. Both sodium fluorosilicate and sodium fluoride are created by neutralizing fluorosilicic acid with either sodium chloride (table salt) or caustic soda.

Here are the chemicals chemical safety cards for each: www.cdc.gov/niosh/ipcsneng/neng1233.html, www.cdc.gov/niosh/ipcsneng/neng1243.html and www.inchem.org/documents/icsc/icsc/eics0951.htm.

Are people callously willing to risk a person's life, or their child's, just so they don't have to schedule a fluoride appointment at their local dentist's office?

I'm not.

• John Webb is a Juneau resident.



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