April 6, 2012

Fluoride in Water

Fluoridation of municipal drinking water has aroused some controversy from its beginnings in 1945. There is no doubt high concentrations of fluoride are toxic to the human body. But it’s important to remember that the toxicity of any material depends on the dose amount and the exposure duration. In the case of municipal water fluoridation, the overwhelming weight of evidence shows the current recommended dose – 0.7* part per million (ppm) – to be safe.  The measurement unit of ppm is one part substance per million parts of water.  One ppm is equivalent to a half gallon jug of water in an Olympic-size pool.

Des Moines Water Works’ source water (the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers, and shallow groundwater under river influence) contains fluoride naturally, usually between 0.1 and 0.5 part per million (ppm).  The addition of fluoride to Des Moines Water Works’ drinking water is monitored every minute of every day by DMWW staff, so that the proper amount of fluoride is always maintained in the drinking water delivered to your home.

Des Moines Water Works and the water industry continue to examine and react to new research. But at the current time, the weight of evidence overwhelmingly supports continued fluoridation of municipal drinking water. Fluoridation of municipal drinking water is endorsed by:

Every U.S. Surgeon General and every sitting President since Kennedy have publicly endorsed fluoridation. As the Centers for Disease Control has recognized, municipal drinking water fluoridation is one of the great public health achievements of the 20th century.  We know good dental health is important to our overall physical well being. Good teeth enable us to eat a healthy diet throughout our life and into old age, helping lengthen our lifespan.

Fluoridation opponents like to say that only a handful of countries fluoridate their water, most notably the US and countries of the former British Empire. This is not accurate.

  • Fluoridated countries: USA, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Spain, UK, and Vietnam.
  • Countries where natural fluoridation provides adequate benefit: Argentina, France, Gabon, Libya, Mexico, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, USA, and Zimbabwe.
  • Countries/areas with fluoride levels above therapeutic levels: Africa, China, India.

Much controversy has been made of the fact that most western European countries do not fluoridate their water, and their rate of tooth decay is similar to the USA. What they don’t say: Many of these countries (plus Japan) once had fluoridated water, but discontinued fluoridation at some point. Discontinuation was almost always accompanied by intervening strategies: widespread use of sealants and topical fluoride treatments that kept decay rates similar to the U.S. It is important to point out that nearly all these countries had some sort of nationalized medical care which gave their citizens easy access to these interventionist strategies once water fluoridation was stopped. Notably, Germany and France both replaced water fluoridation with fluoridated salt. Many other European countries also fluoridate salt. So the arguments about Western Europe really don’t hold much water (pun intended)


Are there side effects to fluoride?
Excess amounts of fluoride can be harmful to teeth and bones. Many people of the early American West had brown-stained teeth because they were consuming spring and mineral water with extremely high amounts of fluoride. It is also thought that infants should not consume fluoride in amounts greater than that found in breast milk. For this reason, the American Dental Association recommends that infant formula be prepared with unfluoridated water.

What if I’m pregnant or have an infant?
The American Dental Association makes these recommendations regarding infants and fluoride:

  • Breast milk is the most complete form of nutrition for infants. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends human milk for all infants (except for the few for whom breastfeeding is determined to be harmful).
  • For infants who get most of their nutrition from formula during their first 12 months, ready-to-feed formula is preferred over formula mixed with water containing fluoride to help ensure that infants do not get more fluoride than they need.
  • Powdered or liquid concentrate infant formula can be mixed with water that is fluoride free or contains low levels of fluoride. These types of water are labeled as purified, demineralized, deionized, distilled or reverse osmosis filtered water. Many stores sell these types of drinking water for approximately $1.00 per gallon.
  • Occasional use of fluoridated water should not greatly increase the chance of over-exposure to fluoride for the infant.
  • After their first birthday, children can drink fluoridated water because they’ve grown and they weigh more.
  • Children under the age of two should not use fluoride toothpaste.

Breast milk is very low in fluoride. Nursing mothers or pregnant women who drink fluoridated water do not pass on significant amounts of fluoride to their child. Avoiding fluoridated water during pregnancy is not necessary. Use of fluoride supplements by the expectant or nursing mother does not benefit the baby. Parents should consult with their dentist or physician if questions or concerns about fluoride exist.

Should I be concerned about Fluoride?
If you have concerns about fluoride, you should discuss this topic with your dentist and doctor. If you wish to eliminate fluoride from your drinking water, home treatment devices are available – primarily reverse osmosis systems. Before buying, make sure the system you are purchasing can remove fluoride.

Want more info on Fluoride, check out our blog series.

*Updated January 7, 2011, due to new fluoride concentration recommendation.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone 3 Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Fluoride, Water Quality, Water Treatment

3 Responses to “Fluoride in Water”

  1. April 09, 2012 at 9:56 am, Fluoride Free Florida said:

    There are so many misconceptions about fluoridated water. Many believe that it makes our water better for us. Chlorine is used by treatment plants to disinfect our water making it clean for us to drink. Fluoride does not clean our water. The sole purpose of fluoride is as medication.

    The first and most important question should be “What is Fluoride”? There is no such thing as fluoride. It is a made up word used in general terms only. All fluoride comes as compounds: sodium fluoride, calcium fluoride, etc. Calcium fluoride is the only fluoride compound found in nature and they do not put this in our toothpaste or water. The FDA has approved three fluoride compounds to be used in toothpaste. The toothpaste tube warns, “Do not swallow”. Why is this? It is because it is never a good idea to ingest fluoride. Ingesting fluoride causes “dental caries”, among other long-term complications.

    So, what fluoride compound are they putting in our water? The fluoride compound they put in our water has never been approved by any agency or organization! It is a by-product from the phosphate mining industry. Even the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for this fluoride compound says “Avoid Ingestion”! The fluoride compound the majority of treatment plants are putting in our water, at the direction of our local governments, is FLUOROSILICIC ACID! It also goes by many other names: fluosilicic acid, hydrofluorosilicic acid, silicofluoric acid, among others.
    So, why are our counties purposely putting this toxin, fluorosilicic acid, in our water?

    Many folks would be inclined to ask, “How can there be any harm since many areas have been fluoridating water for decades”? My question would be “How many decades did it take for the people to stop the industry from putting lead in our household paints and products”?

    Another good question everyone should be asking is “Why is government medicating the population”? Do they know what dose a particular individual needs? Did they consult with the individuals doctor first? Do the county and state governments have a license to practice medicine? The EPA has recently released a statement saying babies should not have fluoride at all. Has the water bill company sent any warnings or notices to parents of new babies?

    Isn’t it time for you to get involved with a local group in your area and put a STOP to this practice?

    Join us at Fluoride Free Florida and help STOP this practice at http://FluorideFreeFlorida.com or email us at [email protected]


  2. April 28, 2012 at 6:07 am, nyscof said:

    Fluoridation Opposition is Scientific, Respectable & Growing

    More than 4,038 professionals (including 331 dentists and 518 MD’s) urge that fluoridation be stopped citing scientific evidence that ingesting fluoride is ineffective at reducing tooth decay and has serious health risks. See statement: http://www.fluoridealert.org/professionals-statement.aspx

    Eleven US EPA unions representing over 7000 environmental and public health professionals are calling for a moratorium on fluoridation.


  3. June 15, 2013 at 1:57 pm, Stacy Hancock said:

    We should have the right to choose what we consume. I fed my oldest bottles made from tap water, there was no information provided to me to do otherwise. How many continue to do just that?


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