It’s not as cut and dry as you might think…
When it comes to the quality of our drinking water, specifically the conversation surrounding the use of fluoride, opinions tend to be quite polarized. But the issue isn’t as cut and dry as many people might think. The element has its definite advantages and downsides, and it’s important to know each side of the argument before you make changes that could impact the health of you and your family.
First things first, the United States Public Health Service began adding fluoride to public water sources in 1962 due to how it helped prevent dental problems for large populations of Americans. It had nothing to do with quality water filtration or ensuring that tap water was, indeed, “safe” to drink. Fluoride was entirely supplementary for that added dental health benefit that then helped keep health care costs down for thousands of people in the process.
As time passed and we learned more about how this natural part of our world can accumulate in dangerous amounts in our bones (especially when you’re between the ages of 10 and 24) and lead to a rare form of bone cancer called osteosarcoma, countless citizens were up in arms about its inclusion in federal water treatment plans. Some cities like Juneau, Alaska even went as far as eliminating it from their municipal water source entirely in 2007. But a new study recently published in BMC Oral Health revealed that the city’s decision did, in fact, result in a lot more dental problems for Juneau’s adolescent population, which also increased the costs associated with solving these problems.
So it becomes a balancing act, especially when referring to young people. Children are notorious for not taking proper care of their teeth, but they’re also the population most susceptible to toxic fluoride levels that could possibly stem from treated water consumption. To best avoid both of these issues, the question then becomes what is the safest level of fluoride treatment for our country’s youth to consume?
Since fluoride use began more than 50 years ago, the United States Public Health Service has adjusted the levels of fluoride they deem safe substantially. Previous regulations stated that drinking water could contain between 0.7 and 0.12 milligrams of fluoride per liter, but in 2015, they adjusted that regulation to be no more than .7 milligrams of fluoride per liter. What’s more, your average drinking water source contains only .2 milligrams of fluoride per liter, making it even safer than you probably realize. You just hope that you’re water source is on the right side of that average statistic.
At the end of the day, you can consult the public water regulation records of your local city to know exactly what’s pouring out of your faucet every day and, from there, determine if the risks outweigh the benefits for you and your family. A mother with three preteens in her home likely has more to consider here than a 65-year-old retiree, but if you ask us, no matter who you are, knowledge is power and you have the right to know what you’re consuming, as well as decide if you want to do something about it.