The great fluoride debate Tastes great, less fillings, advocates say By Stephanie Bertholdo firstname.lastname@example.org
Ed Flanagan was shocked to learn that fluoride, a common toothpaste additive that is believed to protect teeth from decay, will soon be added to tap water throughout Southern California.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and its board of directors voted in favor of fluoridating tap water by 2007.
Flanagan is among those who share the longstanding belief that fluoride is toxic.
"Over 17 million Los Angeles residents, including those in Malibu, Calabasas, West Hills, Agoura Hills, Westlake and adjoining areas, are about to be poisoned by the imminent introduction of highly toxic aluminum fluoride to their drinking and bathing water," Flanagan said.
Flanagan, a 22-year holistic health professional who lives in Calabasas, said that once fluoride is added to the water, residents won't be able to avoid consuming it even if they drink bottled water.
"The average daily shower causes the skin to absorb as much chlorine and fluoride as if three to five gallons were consumed by drinking," Flanagan said.
According to an article by University of Calgary professor David R. Hill on the website www. f l u o r i d a t i o n . c o m / calgaryh.htm, fluoride might cause hip fractures, cancer and intellectual impairment.
"One of the most compelling reasons to me is that the dental journals and public health journals warn against reconstituting infant formula with fluoridated water," said Billie Barewald, a registered nurse and chair of Mountainview Citizens for Safe Drinking Water. Since so many people use tap water to mix infant formula, the danger is clear, she said.
"This is an admission that it is not good to drink," Barewald said.
But others believe small amounts of fluoride pose little if any danger. In fact, most dentists follow the American Dental Association's recommendation of fluoride treatments.
Dr. Steve Chen, a Thousand Oaks dentist, said fluoride "helps kids' teeth in the long run."
Chen said many pediatricians prescribe fluoride drops for children. The drops are typically given to kids between the ages of 18 months and 12 yearsChen said, adding that he gave fluoride drops to his children.
"I put it in their milk," Chen said.
"Fluoride is a safe and effective public health measure," said Arlene Post, a Las Virgenes Municipal Water District spokesperson.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency sets the standards for how much fluoride can be added to water, and the limit is 4 milligrams per
liter. Only 0.07 milligrams of fluoride will be added to local tap water, according to the water district. Post said the surgeon general has indicated that adding fluoride is the single most effective way to improve oral health.
But Flanagan believes the widespread use of fluoride comes as the result of 50 years of misinformation.
He said the Food and Drug Administration classifies fluoride as a medication which, if placed in water, would violate a citizen's right to "informed consent to medicate."
Post said the fluoridation is mandatory. "We receive our water from (the Metropolitan Water District). Without MWD we would have no water," she said.
Flanagan urged residents to oppose the fluoride plan by contacting the water district and local government representatives.
To learn more about the arguments against fluoridation in tap water, visit the website www.fluoridealert.org, or www.nofluoride.com.
For views favoring fluoridation, visit the American Dental Association's website at, www.ada.org/public/topics/ fluoride/ or the Santa Barbara/ Ventura County Dental Association at www.sbvcds.org.