Fluoridation in municipal water supplies is in the news. Why do I care? It affects me. I do not support dosing the entire population with a substance that is available elsewhere than in the water supply for people who want it. And I question whether government should be putting anything in the water supply that could have a negative effect on the entire population.
The community of Poynette made the news in the last few days because of its controversial decision to stop fluoridating its municipal water last summer. Some people object to that decision. An article by Bill Lueders in the March 20, 2009, Isthmus, points out that over time people have contacted the city of Madison questioning its fluoridation. According to the article, Madison did a study in January, and concluded that fluoridation is good and “there is no harm in fluoridating our water supply.” The article quotes Tom Heikkinen, Water Utility general manager on this, who says, “This is a public policy decision that should be made by elected officials.” The study’s conclusion is that the practice is safe. I believe they are referring to fluoride’s safety in its role in slowing down tooth decay. Heikkinen doesn’t say what he means by “safe” in the article.
Reports say that fluoride taken in excess is poison. Fluoride intake can be excessive due to being ingested in various ways, such as city water, toothpaste, soda made with fluoridated water, and swimming in pools filled with fluoridated water. Fluoride has been reported to cause hip fractures. My concern is the mostly unreported reports about fluoride and impairment of thyroid functioning. They don’t seem to be talking about that.
An authority on the subject of fluoride and thyroid function is Mary Shomon, author of the website http://thyroid.about.com/ , and author of Living Well With Hypothyroidism: What Your Doctor Doesn’t Tell You...That You Need to Know (HarperResource, 2005), and other books. In the section of the Living Well book, she says, “Fluoride, a common additive to water supplies, a frequent ingredient in toothpaste, and a common treatment given by dentists, is likely one of the reasons behind increased rates of hypothyroidism—and other health concerns—in the United States." (p. 271). She also says, “Some experts and researchers believe that fluoride is in part the reason for near-epidemic levels of hypothyroidism in the United States. Fluoride has been used for decades as an effective anti-thyroid medication to treat hyperthyroidism, and was frequently an effective treatment at levels below the current 'optimal' intake of 1 mg/day. This is due to the ability of fluoride to mimic the action of thyroid-stimulating hormone. The more fluoride circulating, the more the body thinks there is TSH circulating, which shuts down the thyroid, making it less active." (p. 273).
Enter the blogosphere. The Daily Page, the online presence of Isthmus, has an ongoing conversation that I find very interesting, with various points of view from intelligent to absurd. It is at http://www.thedailypage.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=45560. The discussion points to some sources that apparently the Madison Water Utility people did not consider. I offer them as informational, not necessarily the last word on the issue. Try http://www.fluoridenews.blogspot.com/, called Fluoride News Tracker; or http://www.fluorideaction.net/.
Flouridation may be legal, and safety is a big question. Another question is whether government should be permitting water to be adulterated with fluoride, or, as has been proposed elsewhere, statin drugs to control cholesterol whether needed or not. What is to stop us from putting other substances into the water, such as drugs to pacify us into not acting on civic issues, or anything else that might control society by chemical means?