Keep Juneau's water fluoride-free

Posted: Monday, September 24, 2007

One of our many privileges here in Southeast Alaska is access to an abundance of pure and excellent fresh water. I'm happy to enjoy this water straight from the tap without added fluoride. I'd be grateful if you would help me continue to do so by voting no to water fluoridation on Oct. 2.

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Nobody wants kids to get cavities. Just like you, I want all kids to grow up strong and happy. But the best way to keep kids from getting cavities is to teach them how to brush properly with a fluoride toothpaste. If you're really concerned with your kid's oral hygiene, this is a safer and more effective strategy than municipal fluoridation.

Fluoride is a poison and a medicine. That's why it kills or inhibits the bacteria that cause cavities. That's why it tells you on the toothpaste tube to spit and rinse, and to call poison control if a large quantity is ingested. Brushing your teeth is chemotherapy.

Even the Center for Disease Control, one of this country's biggest proponents of water fluoridation, admits that the only benefit to be accrued from fluoride is topical rather than systemic. This means that to receive any benefit from a fluoridated solution, it has to have direct contact with the surface of the teeth. Hence, the effectiveness of brushing with a fluoride toothpaste. The only possibility fluoridated water has to deliver any benefit is inasmuch as it touches the teeth during the act of drinking. Thereafter, there is zero benefit to be gained systemically, that is, via digestion and through the bloodstream.

It's like the mosquito repellent DEET. Its only benefit is topical, not systemic. If you rub it on your skin, you might deter a few bugs. If you drink the stuff, the mosquitos are going to have you for a picnic.

Unfortunately, there is potential harm to be had from fluoride. After all, it is a poison. It accumulates in bone tissue. At higher concentrations (greater than 4 ppm), it can cause skeletal fluorosis and other diseases. Proponents of municipal water fluoridation suggest administering fluoride into our water supply at a concentration (1 ppm) sufficient to provide a topical effect to teeth, yet still low enough so that the systemic effect to the human body is essentially negligible.

In other words, the challenge is to administer a known poison at a concentration low enough to have no damaging effect on human bodies, yet high enough to provide a benefit to oral hygiene. What's the dosage level? Does it vary from person to person? What about the cumulative effect? What about people who are more sensitive to the damaging effects of fluoride than the general population?

In the Juneau voter's information pamphlet, the statement in support of having fluoride added back in to our water supply actually claims that fluoride is a nutrient.

Hold on. That's a lie, folks. Fluoride is not necessary to human life. Fluoride isn't an essential mineral, and it's not found in any vitamin, amino acid, fat or carbohydrate molecule. Fluoride is a nutrient like lead is a nutrient.

In my mind, to my thinking, what it comes down to is this: If you want fluoride in your water but I don't, then you should add it to your own water. Leave my water, the general water supply, alone. If you really believe that drinking fluoridated water is going to have a significant, positive effect on the health of your family, then go out and buy yourself a bottle of fluorosilicic acid (that's the form commonly added to municipal supplies). Put a couple drops in gallon jugs and keep them cold in your refrigerator, and fill up some smaller bottles to take with you when you go out.

After all, if I wanted my water to taste like lemon, but you didn't, I wouldn't suggest we pour lemon flavor in the reservoir. That would be an unwarranted presumption upon your good nature, and downright unneighborly. I'd just add it to my own glass.

Juneau is a terrific place and has a lot going for it. Please help keep our water clean by voting no to water fluoridation on Oct. 2.



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