Fluoride and Portland
Here is an excerpt from the article “What’s the matter with Portland?” (Read the full article here) about the city’s refusal to fluoridate their water supply.
“What is alarming to me … is that [fluoride includes] known contaminants … I don’t think it makes any sense to add more contaminants to our kids’ water.”
She [Kellie Barnes, spokeswoman for Clean Water Portland] is referring to a National Science Foundation study from June 2012 that showed that 43 percent of “fluoride products” contain trace elements of arsenic, 2 percent contain similar proportions of lead, and 2 percent copper. However, what Clean Water Portland does not say is that the report finds that the amounts of heavy metals found in these samples are so minuscule as to be completely innocuous; none come remotely close to the EPA’s Maximum Contaminant Levels. Similar flaws can be found with Clean Water Portland’s analysis of many of the studies that supposedly support their cause. The centerpiece of their argument is a Harvard review of studies which concludes that naturally occurring fluoridation may lower child IQ—at levels more than 10 times higher than any ever recommended in the United States. The research looks pretty shaky anyway, considering that most of the studies didn’t control for parental education and household income, among other factors. CWP claims that a 2006 studyfrom the National Academy of Sciences links fluoride in drinking water “to a broad spectrum of human health ailments from neurological damage and thyroid disorders … and increased risks of bone cancer.” But, again, the study looks at far higher concentrations of fluoride than have ever been recommended in the United States. The chairman of the commission responsible for the study, John Doull, even wrote (regarding a policy battle over fluoridation in Kansas City): “I do not believe there is any valid scientific reason for fearing adverse health conditions from the consumption of water fluoridated at the optimal level.”
I’m highlighting this portion because it seems to be a tactic used my many anti-fluoridaters/anti-vacciners (the anties). They point to studies and only mention the parts that boost their argument. Here they talk about “fluoride products” containing copper, lead, and arsenic. Terrifying right? But they fail to mention that the quantities are so low that they are essentially harmless. Thankfully good scientists weigh both the risks AND the benefits against each other when making decisions, and don’t just focus on one side or the other.
And one other part of the anti-fluoridation argument that baffles me is that many communities also chlorinate their water, but no one seems to have as problem with that? Why is that?