My Turn: Fluoridated water will hurt my children

Posted: Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Please don't fluoridate the water. I am very distressed by claims of absolute safety of fluoride for all people. That is simply not true. I'm one of the people who will be hurt by fluoridated water, and even worse, two of my children also will be hurt by fluoridation.

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I have a thyroid disease. I don't know what caused it. Nobody does. But I do know from past experience that it gets worse when fluoride is in my water or food, and better when I keep it out. Two of my three kids have digestive enzyme deficiencies. Fluoride can reduce enzyme activity. My kids are given prescribed enzymes by their doctor to be taken each time they eat. Without the full activity of these enzymes, they cannot digest their food. Giving my kids fluoridated water will further cause harm to their impaired digestive tracts.

Someone wrote that people like my family members "can just drink bottled water or filtered water," as if this is no big deal. They suggested anyone who has significant problems with fluoridated city water would already need to be using bottled water. This is not true.

If city water is fluoridated, I will be forced to buy bottled water. The fluorine molecule is smaller than a water molecule and cannot be filtered out of water using any common household filter. Only a distiller will remove all fluoride. So I will have no choice but to buy distilled water. Teachers will have to make sure my kids don't drink from the water fountain. I will have to fill smaller sports bottles because distilled water doesn't usually come in single servings. My boys, who already have to take medication before eating, will be singled out further by having to drink special water.

But it doesn't end there. If water is fluoridated all over Juneau, there will be no more coffee at coffee shops and no more cocoa after skiing. There will be no more hot dogs or sodas from Costco or from the movie theater either, as all of these things will be made with or in fluoridated water. I won't be able to let my sons eat dinner at their friends' houses because I will have to be vigilant about protecting them from accidentally getting fluoride into their impaired systems. It will also greatly reduce the amount of eating out we can do.

Having fluoride in the water will hurt my family even if I am successful in keeping it out of their bodies because it will so powerfully restrict our lives. We will constantly be worrying about the availability of pure water and food. Nor is it just my family. Besides people with thyroid diseases, people with diabetes sometimes feel worse when taking fluoride, and people with some form of renal disease may also wish to avoid it. Infants cannot have fluoride, and many young children get so much fluoride each day they are already getting the upper safe limit. Pregnant women may wish to err on the side of safety, and who can blame them? Not all people with chronic illnesses are sensitive to fluoride, and there will always be lucky individuals who can eat, drink and bathe in fluoride with no harm, but this does not mean everyone can. It will, of course, depend on the individual. And that is my point.

Even if you are a person who believes that fluoride is generally safe for most people, it simply isn't for everyone. Fluoride is a prescription drug controlled by the Food and Drug Association. It doesn't belong in the water where it will medicate everyone at different doses without any regard to level of need. It is medicating without informed consent, and without a reasonable means to "opt out." It is not appropriate or fair to do this.

Fluoride is widely available to those people who want or need it. What we really need is better access to dental care, not just more fluoride.

Please vote no on fluoride in water, and by doing so, vote yes for pure water and individualized health care.

• Heather Linford is a Juneau resident.

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