The Problem with Fluoride — Voters in Portland, Oregon just passed a bill stopping the practice of adding fluoride to the water in their city. Ironically, Portland was one of the first cities to implement water fluoridation in the 1950’s, as the clear water runoff from the snowy Cascade mountains that poured into the city reservoir was so pure it contained very few minerals. At the time, dentists and pediatricians were convinced that adding fluoride to the water was a cheap and effective way to promote tooth and overall health. Portland started fluoridating their water, and virtually every other city with a public water supply soon followed suit as this treatment became a matter of social and public health policy for years.
It turns out that the topical application of fluoride is a proven method for protecting teeth from cavities and decay. But there is little scientific evidence that adding industrial grade fluoride to public water supplies is effective. In fact, there are now a growing number of studies that link fluoride with cancers, depression, docility, lower IQ scores, and other health hazards. Still, proponents of fluoride maintain that some is natural and necessary for good dental health although recentlythere has been some recognition that over-fluoridation is a risk. The battle whether to add fluoride or not has become passionate for both sides.
In many cases, the fluoride that our cities are using is a chemical waste by-product from fertilizer. American companies used to pay to have it hauled away and treated as a hazardous material. Starting in the 1940’s they were able to make money by selling it as a water additive. Today, much of the country’s fluoride is imported from China, and may be contaminated with lead, arsenic, cadmium and other toxic metals. Many cities that import fluoride from China either do not test it for these metals, or do not publish the results.