My turn: Dentists not water-quality experts

Posted: Monday, December 04, 2006

Apparently someone got it wrong. The Nov. 21 Empire headline reads "Juneau nixes fluoridation - Assembly votes to halt program after packed meeting" and goes on to state that "After contentious public debate, the Juneau Assembly voted down Monday a proposal to continue fluoridating the city's water supply."

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Now it appears that wasn't the final vote, but that the Assembly will be holding a closed-door "final" vote on Dec. 11. What was the last time? Didn't five out of nine Assembly members vote to keep our water fluoride free? Do we just keep voting on this issue until all the people opposing fluoride give up? This is as bad as the capital move. It seems this issue just won't go away.

The dental community is very vocal that if we don't fluoridate our water, all of our teeth and our children's teeth will rot out. I grew up drinking well water. Never fluoridated. Rarely even flossed and didn't brush three times a day. Still got teeth. The reality is, most dentists have not read the scientific studies and really put forth the effort to become water quality experts. They are told in dental school that fluoridation is our savior, just like their professor learned when he was in dental school.

Even the American Dental Association has reversed its previous stance and now says that infants and pregnant women should avoid fluoride exposure. Yet the Juneau dental community still cries that we must fluoridate everyone. They cite that it is a standard dental practice. OK, so they all were taught the same thing. Everyone used to think the world was flat, too. That and the fact that if any dentist was publicly against fluoridation, the American Dental Association would make sure they couldn't get malpractice insurance. Sounds like blackmail to me.

There were many quotes from members of the National Research Council panel, that was tasked by EPA to determine a minimum allowable limit for human consumption of fluoride, that I would like to include. This one summed it up nicely: "In my opinion, the evidence that fluoridation is more harmful than beneficial is now overwhelming and policymakers who avoid thoroughly reviewing recent data before introducing new fluoridation schemes do so at risk of future litigation," said Dr. Hardy Limeback, council panel member. There are a lot more quotes from council scientists that were on this panel, voicing grave concerns about the safety of consuming any fluoride.

In short, the report says that the acceptable limit of fluoride for human consumption is zero. It has adverse effects on nearly every organ in your body. This is a toxic by-product of the aluminum industry. You could not take a bag of the stuff to the dump because it is considered Haz Mat, yet you could put it in your drinking water. Does that make any sense?

Once fluoride is in your water, it is very hard to get it back out. No water filter will do it; you must buy a reverse osmosis system very expensive and they are wasteful to run (four gallons of water to produce one clean gallon). I have not seen any studies, but the wastewater treatment plant does not filter out fluoride. There have been studies regarding antibiotics and birth control being eliminated from the person taking it, going through the treatment facility and being released into the environment, having catastrophic results on the wildlife. Think that every drop of water in Juneau is releasing a toxic waste product into our environment.

The National Research Council, EPA and American Dental Association say you should avoid it. What is it doing to our fish and wildlife? I know that if I set up a salt water reef tank with tap water, nothing flourishes. If don't change anything else, and start using reverse osmosis, everything does fine.

Make sure that our Assembly members keep our drinking water pristine and pollution-free like it should be. People should be able to decide whether or not they want to consume fluoride. If people feel that it is beneficial to them, ask their dentist to give or prescribe some. It is also approved to be sprayed on foods to prevent bacteria and fungi (it kills them). It is currently in most brands of toothpaste, in some brands of oral rinse, etc. There are many options available to those who want fluoride.

Please don't waste our tax dollars medicating everyone and polluting our waters. The salmon's teeth will be just fine. Besides, how many young kids do you see drinking water, or is it mostly soda?

• Allen Butner, former Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Drinking Water Program employee, works for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is owner of an aquarium maintenance company.



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