Recent years have contributed a lot to health scares and controversial information spreading online that has left many questioning their validity or accuracy. One consistent health concern that still makes its presence known is the practice of having fluorinated drinking water at our taps. Much of this concern has to do with how exactly fluoride in water can affect the body, and how it got there in the first place.
Why is fluoride so widely used?
As a mineral, fluoride occurs naturally but the version that ends up drinking water is a synthetically produced one. Thus it may not be the exact same as natural fluoride, which again raises eyebrows from the consumer community. That being said, there is a good reason why fluoride has been a part of our drinking water for so long. Its use in toothpaste has proven to be most efficient in fighting off tooth decay, but children don’t always brush their teeth, or they don’t do it properly.
This method of implementing fluoride in drinking water has made it possible to deliver the necessary mineral so that it may prevent tooth decay, especially in children. The amount of fluoride in water is always contested, but it would take a large amount of fluoride to be consumed so that any negative effects might appear. For many, this risk outweighs the benefits and for others, it will mean investing in a water filtration system that will reduce fluoride.
How much fluoride is too much?
Fluoride has been implemented in tap water for decades, so this offers a good reference to see the effects it can have on consumers over time. Usually, fluoride levels in drinking water are somewhere between 1.5 mg/L and 2.4 mg/L. This can be an issue with children younger than 8 as it may incur some negative reactions if exposed for long periods of time at levels higher than 1.5 mg/L.
The pushback to fluoride
Fluoride is a very well-known component used in toothpaste to prevent and reduce tooth decay. The benefits of fluoride in toothpaste are undeniable, but the worrying feeling about fluorinated water comes from the lack of control consumers face. They don’t know how much fluoride is added to their drinking water and it’s not possible to stop it from being added. To find out more, consumers seek out information online, wishing also to find a solution for removing fluoride.
People often exhibit distrust of whatever their governments might be tampering in, especially when it has to do with the right of the population. This distrust is sometimes justified, as examples of scraping back certain rights are still happening in the present. It’s thus not surprising when these concerns extend to access to clean drinking water and what may be added to this water that could alter it and impede on a basic right.
However, on a global scale, there are independent scientific organizations with no affiliation or loyalties to governing bodies that look into the facts and provide guidance. Studies regarding fluoride are among them, and it’s on the recommendation of these organizations that governments impose certain regulations to the benefit of the population’s health.
Exposure to fluoride comes from other sources besides toothpaste or water as it can even be found in natural water sources as well as in certain foods. The level of fluoride in these however is too low to have any considerable impact. All these added up just seem like too much of a risk to have fluoride in drinking water for many households. Stacking all these health concerns on top of each other is why there is so much pushback against fluorinating drinking water.
Guidelines about the amount of fluoride in drinking water are set to make it safe for consumption, but this does not appease consumer worry. Other questions arise like, what effects it may have depending on age, body weight, or specific pre-existing medical conditions. Consumers also cite studies that may link extensive fluoride consumption to a cognitive deficit in children. Besides that, there is also the added risk of fluorosis which can affect both teeth and bones.
Various other areas of concern come into play in terms of fluoride exposure which include thyroid complications, pineal gland issues, and even ADHD. Every one of these medical complications does have scientific backing, and there have been examples where excess fluoride has been detrimental. The key thing to keep in mind here is the word ‘excess’ as the study itself might contain far more fluoride than what can be found in drinking water. Any substance consumed in large amounts can prove lethal, alcohol and even salt can pose this danger.
How safe is fluoride in water?
In general, fluoride in water is safe enough to consume especially since a large amount of fluoride is too hard for any person to ingest. There are extenuating circumstances where health issues can arise, but it all depends on each individual case. Not everyone has the same metabolism and there can be people who are more sensitive to certain stimuli, fluoride included. Consumable amounts of fluoride should not pose any immediate danger when ingested.
There is, however, the option to filter some of this fluoride out of water. It may somewhat inconvenient, as each consumer must find the perfect method to go about this. Water filters are an investment that can lower the levels of fluoride and there are many different kinds of filters to purchase. Opting out of mandatory fluoride in tap water may not be possible but there are ways to take care of it.
No matter how long this debate has been going there are advocates and challengers to fluorinated water across the globe. The issue of trust is frequently invoked in the safety of one’s water, and this creates friction with governing bodies. Fluoride has been in use for decades now, and even if there are not as many examples of it being all that dangerous, the fact that it is forcefully added, vexes consumers.