By TEDDYE SNELL
A generation ago, adding fluoride to the nation’s drinking water seemed like the best plan to improve dental health across the country.
Today, a group of local residents has formed the Tahlequah Fluoride Removal Alliance to educate the public about the long-term effects of fluoride when it’s ingested, particularly through drinking water. The group’s ultimate goal is to have fluoride removed from Tahlequah’s city water supply.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, community water fluoridation is recognized as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.
“We were told forever that it was good for us,” said TFRA member Kate Starr. “But it’s a big deception. When ingested, it poses a number of health risks – particularly for infants, athletes and the elderly.”
According to a brochure provided by the Alliance, fluorosilicic acid - or FSA - is a corrosive acid that has been linked to higher blood lead levels in children. A recent study from the University of North Carolina found that FSA can, in combination with chlorinated compounds, leach lead from brass joints in water pipes. Lead is a neurotoxin that can cause learning disabilities and behavioral problems in children.
The Fluoride Action Network, www.fluoridealert.org, indicates the Food and Drug Administration now requires that all fluoride toothpaste sold in the U.S. carry a poison warning instructing users to contact the poison control center if they swallow more than what’s needed for brushing. FAN’s health summaries also point out links between fluoridation and arthritis, cancer, dental fluorosis, diabetes and kidney disease.
TFRA members Dana and Jay Smith believe diet has far more to do with promoting dental health than the fluoridation of water.
“For instance, take the aboriginal people and the Native Americans, they had few dental problems until they began eating a westernized diet,” said Dana. “What we’re trying to point out is there is enough evidence to show that fluoridating the drinking supply raises a significant number of health issues. When in doubt, leave it out.”
Group members plan to attend the Tahlequah Public Works Authority Board of Directors meeting at 9 a.m., Friday, April 12, to voice their concerns.
TPWA monitors fluoridation levels in the city’s water supply, and according to a recent Daily Press report, maintains an average fluoride level of 0.9 parts per million. That’s below the maximum contaminant level goal of 4, and below the secondary standard guideline of 2.
“I have received the request from the group,” said TPWA General Manager Mike Doublehead. “The agenda will be posted on Wednesday [April 10]. In my short tenure, we have not looked at defluoridation here in Tahlequah.”
Jay Smith indicated the Alliance plans to attend meetings regularly.
“We want to open a dialogue, and understand this is just the beginning of what will likely be a long process,” said Jay.
Starr’s concern is that dosage per individual cannot be measured.
“Certain groups – like infants, athletes and the elderly – may be drinking so much water the fluoride levels become toxic,” said Starr. “We’re being medicated without our consent, with no dosage controls.”
TFRA member Sand Mueller said he’s read studies that recommend infants not have any fluoride in any form before teeth erupt.
“So mothers who mix formula using tap water are over-fluoridating their children from infancy,” said Mueller. “This is particularly harsh on the lower-income families, which may not be able to afford to use anything but tap water.”
The Alliance is hosting a screening of “The Fluoride Deception” at 6:30 p.m., Friday, April 5, at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Tahlequah, to raise awareness of the dangers of fluoridation.
Local chiropractor and TFRA member Shannon Grimes said he thinks the fluoridation issue needs investigation.
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