Saturday, December 20, 2014

Fluoride In My Drinking Water: Why I Don't Want It There

Originally published April 4, 2012

Dear Mayor and Council:

I'm writing to you today to ask you to reconsider fluoridating our city's water. I hadn't given it a great deal of thought as problematic until recently, when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's thyroiditis, an auto-immune condition in which my body is slowly breaking down my thyroid gland. Researching the condition, I've been able to make a number of lifestyle changes that have alleviated a number of symptoms, but the deeper I dig into possible triggers and into foods and substances I'm now better off avoiding, the more concerned I am that there are still a few things I cannot really avoid without going to a great deal of personal expense, spending money that my family and I simply do not have. Fluoride is one of those substances, and it's in our water supply - and nearly impossible to filter out, definitely not with an average home filter. :-( When I researched and discovered that Rockville is one community that still adds fluoride to our water supply, even though there is an increasing number of other communities across the country and around the world who are in fact removing it from their municipal water supplies, I became concerned enough to write about it.

So what's wrong with fluoride in the first place? Why should it NOT be in our water?

My first concern is that fluoride is an endocrine disruptor. It's being implicated in the increasing incidence of precocious puberty, which has become so pervasive now that the medical profession is literally redefining the "normal" onset age of puberty. I have two young daughters and I am beyond surprised at how many of my older elementary daughter's classmates are already showing outward signs of puberty; when I was her age, there was precisely ONE 10-year-old in our school with any breasts at all, and even when I was teaching 4th and 5th grade 10-15 years ago it was still pretty unusual to see 4th- and 5th-grade girls developing breasts, but now it's really quite commonplace in our neighborhood school. Other factors may include hormone-like substances in plastics, synthetic hormones in meats and dairy, and the prevalence of soy products in American processed foods, but fluoride has also been specifically called out as a likely trigger as well. Even babies are exposed to very high levels of fluoride, especially those who are formula-fed, as the water component of the formula is most often - you guessed it - household tap water, even if it's filtered water.

Fluoride's effects on the thyroid have been well-documented already; sodium fluoride was once used to treat overactive thyroids, to reduce their function, so what is it likely to be doing to thyroids that are either normal or compromised, like mine? I myself now need to avoid iodine now that my thyroid is this compromised; fluoride interacts with the thyroid in a similar fashion. There has been a sharp rise in the number of cases of hypothyroidism and of Hashimoto's disease in recent years, and if all sufferers would do well to avoid fluoride, what is left to drink? Unless I purchase my own water filtration system like reverse osmosis or a Berkey filter, both of which are prohibitively expensive, or purchase only bottled water guaranteed to be fluoride-free (again, a pricey option, not to mention issues with plastics which themselves are linked to endocrine disruption), I really have no really affordable way to avoid the stuff here. It's in the tap water and smaller filters like Brita cannot filter out the small molecule, it's in the municipal water used in most bottled and canned beverages, and it's in most bottled water as well. I would love to be able to drink unlimited quantities of my own municipal water (which I already pay for through my taxes and water bills) and feel safer about it. [Edited to add: when I contacted our City's water treatment folks, who were very helpful and wonderfully professional, it was suggested to look into ZeroWater, which resembles a Brita setup but has a 5-stage filter. The pitcher costs about $35, and the filters, which need to be replaced about every 2-3 months, cost about $10 each IF you buy them by the dozen (more per filter in smaller lots), so this IS at least *somewhat* affordable, at least in our household, assuming no financial disasters befall us any time soon, and at least would take care of the drinking water and cooking aspects of our water use.]

Fluoride, along with aluminum, is also being implicated in Alzheimers disease.  Aluminum has been linked to Alzheimers for many years, but it seems that the presence of fluoride makes the brain more susceptible to the effects of aluminum in the body.

Fluoride's effectiveness in preventing dental issues is by topical application, not systemic ingestion. The vast majority of toothpastes on the market today already contain sufficient fluoride for this kind of application, and the packages come with warnings not to swallow the toothpaste - yet we add the fluoride to the water supply where we can't help BUT ingest it.

Fluoride isn't a natural part of most water supplies in the first place. The stuff we're using now is, quite simply, industrial waste: it's by-products of processing in other industrial applications, most notably fertilizer manufacture. Where it does occur naturally in the soil and water, it's not in the form of sodium fluoride at all.

Fluoridated water isn't actually associated with a reduced risk of dental caries (cavities); the presence of fluoride in the water supply simply doesn't reduce cavities, particularly in low-income families.

The NRC - National Research Council - conducted a review of the EPA's safe water standards and found them lacking in a number of respects; the link provided gives a number of excerpts that address pretty much every issue I've touched on and then some.

Finally, I have ethical concerns about fluoridation of the water supply. Fluoride is being added for medical reasons (ostensibly to control dental caries) to my drinking water, but not by me. It's the only substance (so far?) added in this manner, and because people drink vastly different amounts of water, the dosage absolutely cannot be controlled; neither can we eliminate it if we so choose without going to borderline-extreme measures to do so. It's essentially a medication we're being given without our consent, and without the ability to limit or eliminate the way we can any and every other medication available to us as the public.

I leave you with this link of 50 reasons to in fact oppose water fluoridation; many of the topics I've touched on that concern me as a thyroid patient and as a mother are also listed and referenced here.

Thank you for your consideration.

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Please keep it clean. Differences of opinion aren't a problem for me. Rudeness is. Thankyouverymuch. :-)