I am concerned by the Board of Supervisors' strong push to fluoridate Sonoma County's water supply. While the conspiracy theories about fluoride are largely to be disregarded, they act as distractions from what are some very serious questions about mass fluoridation.
<BL@199,12,11,10>The evidence that fluoride ingested into the body has a positive effect on tooth health has come under great scrutiny in the past decade and has been somewhat debunked. Topical fluoride, as used in toothpaste and clinical fluoride treatments, does help to prevent cavities, but its ingestion holds less merit. The report "Current and future role of fluoride in nutrition," published in Dental Clinics of North America <NO1>by researchers at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry<NO>states, "Current evidence strongly suggests that fluorides work primarily by topical means through direct action on the teeth and dental plaque. Thus, ingestion of fluoride is not essential for caries (cavity) prevention."
<BL@199,12,11,10>More than 90 percent of European countries no longer add fluoride into their water. In the Netherlands, for instance, that nation's supreme court ruled that providing clean water is the water authority's role, not medication in any form.
<BL@199,12,11,10>Even if fluoride is effective, it is impossible, through the water supply, to ensure that people are receiving either too little or too much of it, or of any medication. A bicycle rider, for instance, may drink more than a gallon of water a day and will ingest much more medication than is intended, while many of the children it is intended for may drink primarily sodas and sugary drinks not made with the county water supply. And no health professional in their right mind would ever give a prescription to a patient and then tell them to have as much or as little as they wanted.
<BL@199,12,11,10>Fluoride is notoriously difficult to remove from water and cannot be removed through simple and affordable Brita-type water filters. It also stays in water through treatment and goes into the environment, into our rivers and into our creeks and watersheds.
<BL@199,12,11,10>The fluoride that is put into municipal water supplies is not calcium fluoride, the largely insoluble mineral naturally found in ground water. It will be either sodium fluoride or fluosilicic acid, both waste by-products of industrial fertilizer manufacturing and both normally requiring a doctor's prescription, even in as low of a dosage as 0.7 mg, the same amount to be present in one liter of fluoridated water.
<BL@199,12,11,10>Forced medication is unethical and is in violation of California's Requirement for Informed Consent for Medical Treatment. The medications one puts into their body should be the result of a dialogue between their doctor and themselves. You could imagine the outcry if something as beneficial and innocuous as low dose aspirin or vitamin D was put into our water supply. Fluoride is much more controversial than either of these, and yet is the only medication proposed to be forced onto the Sonoma County population, regardless of their preferences, beliefs regarding medicine or medical conditions.
The addition of fluoride to municipal water supplies is a costly attempt to find a magic bullet for dental health, and like most magic bullets, is magical thinking. Not only will the equipment alone cost more than $700,000 of our county's shriveled budget, money that would be better suited for real dental treatment programs or oral health education, it's a serious violation of our rights under California law.
Kelley Larsen is a Santa Rosa resident.