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UK Against Fluoridation

Thursday, May 22, 2008

USA - Don't dismiss fluoride in Grand Rapids

Don't dismiss fluoride in Grand Rapids
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
In 1945, Grand Rapids became the first city in the nation to add fluoride to drinking water to prevent tooth decay. Today, following this city's lead, more than two thirds of Americans drink from public systems where fluoride is added to the water. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls water fluoridation one of the 10 great health achievements of the 20th century -- along with vaccinations and control of infectious diseases.

Against that backdrop, the announcement from a City of Grand Rapids official that he is studying whether or not to continue fluoridation should be met with considerable skepticism from the public and the Grand Rapids City Commission. Municipal water fluoridation here and elsewhere remains a success.
Only serious evidence to the contrary should be allowed to compromise those gains and reverse the city's historic role in the fluoride revolution.
Corky Overmyer, director of sustainability for the city of Grand Rapids, recently announced that he is working with scientists at Grand Valley State University to study whether or not to continue to add fluoride to the city's water supply. He is responding to anti-fluoride advocates, who have linked fluoride to everything from cancer to Down Syndrome.

There is no indication Mr. Overmyer's musings have moved beyond the let's-take-a-look stage for Grand Rapids and the 11 suburban communities served by its water system. Certainly there is no harm in reviewing the hard science on fluoridation's benefits and reviewing the concerns of critics.

The discussion should begin with the conclusions of credible groups such as the World Health

Organization, the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Medical Association and the Centers for Disease Control. All affirm the proven benefits of fluoride in drinking water in the proper amounts -- roughly 1 part per million, about a drop in a bathtub full of water.

Based on a review of the scientific literature, the ADA has concluded that water fluoridation today reduces tooth decay by 20 percent to 40 percent. The organization finds no credible scientific links between the proper levels of fluoride and cancer, Down Syndrome, poor thyroid gland function, infertility or a host of other ills cited by fluoride opponents.

The chemical can cause some health problems if it exceeds recommended amounts. Over-fluoridation happens through natural occurrence in water or, for instance, when children are allowed to ingest too much toothpaste when they brush their teeth. The effects range from enamel fluorosis, a discoloration and pitting of tooth enamel, to skeletal fluorosis, which increases bone fractures.

So there is reason to be cautious about the amount of the chemical ingested. But any attempt to get rid of fluoride altogether faces a long, uphill climb against the considerable evidence that fluoridation remains a safe, cost-effective tool for promoting healthier lives. Opponents will have to produce evidence to the contrary that has real teeth before Grand Rapids should even think about backing down from that great public health advance.


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