Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Drinking Water

I am thinking about water and the problems connected to drinking municipal tap water. Water is very important for life, especially my life.

Last week's Isthmus has a short article about bottled water. The article tells a partial story about water. It pointed out the advantages of consuming local tap water, along with ways in which bottled water is bad for people and the planet. The occasion was a free screening of the documentary film Tapped, sponsored by the City of Madison. I missed the movie, but am thinking about the water problem.

The article quotes a couple of city people. According to the city recycling "conquistador", municipal water suppliers must meet higher standards than bottled water producers; some bottled water is actually filtered tap water from municipal systems; only a quarter of plastic water bottles are recycled and the others go to the landfills; the bottles are made of "petrol", which I believe is a petroleum product; the bottles must be trucked to stores.

The article points out another issue, the ethical concern that water belongs to all the people, and is being privatized, and in some cases it is being hauled away from populations that need it.

What the article does not point out is the other side of the story. I am not in favor of privatized water, and I do believe that the earth's water belongs to the people. The thing that bothers me is that apparently tap water isn't as innocent as the Isthmus article suggests.

Municipal water is treated with chlorine and fluoride. I can see the need to chlorinate it for health reasons, even though chlorine is a poison. I take issue with fluoridation. It is said that fluoride is good to prevent tooth decay. Okay, I say, so let the kids get their fluoride in their toothpaste and mouthwash rather than in their drinking water. I don't want to see the whole population dosed with fluoride in the water when people can fluoridate themselves with other products.

I say this because I love my thyroid, and fluoride is not good for it. People don't advertise that. I have read about this in several sources, one of which I quote here: "...despite its wide use in preventing tooth decay, [flouride] can act as a metabolic poison and damage your thyroid. Thyroid impairment is a serious problem affecting millions of women. (In Europe, after much research, they removed fluoride from their water supply.)" (Dr. Joseph Mercola, the No-Grain Diet; Penguin Group, 2004, p. 151.) Mercola has a large following on his website, with articles about drinking water and many other health matters. In the portion of the book quoted above, he points out that tap water is toxic because it contains both fluoride and chlorine. He suggested that glass bottled spring water, not drinking water, is a "safe but costly alternative." Mercola is not the only doctor to talk this way.

That leaves people like me with a dilemma. I live in the city with municipal water, not my own well. I can not put a filtration system in my home water supply due to it being a condominium. I can put a carbon filter on my faucet, but carbon filters do not remove fluoride. I can bow to the capitalist system and buy privatized water in plastic bottles that will leach chemicals into the water and fill the landfill unless I recycle them. Fortunately, I have the alternative of cheap reverse osmosis city water at the grocery store, which I put into reusable bottles. It's not ideal, but it provides water with the poisons removed. I would be happier with unfluoridated water from my home faucet. That would help with the ethical problem of privatized water, and it would be very convenient.

I was glad to see that the village of Poynette was not adding fluoride to its water supply, at least for a while. About a year ago the village had a referendum, in which the people there voted overwhelmingly in favor of fluoridating the water. Alas. They did it.

If populations can willingly be fed a poison like fluoride through the drinking water, what will they put into the water supply next?