The fluoridation issue came to the floor of last night’s council meeting and I’m sure the local media will offer a nice summary of the discussion. I ended up doing an impromptu deputation to balance out the public opinion and offer a few thoughts on some of the issues being raised. In thinking about it a little bit more there are some points that I perhaps might have made, or are perhaps worthy of consideration.
1) We have become a very selfish society. It’s all about ‘me’. How do things impact me, and me alone. It’s not a question of what is best for me and my neighbours and my fellow citizens, and my fellow humans, and our environment and our earth. It’s about ‘me’ and what pleases or frightens me. I think about the sacrifices that our parents made to give us what we have. Can you think about a better time in the history of the world to live? Our lifespans are not only longer than ever, but we live in better health for a much larger part of this longer life. Yet we bitch and moan about how the little things are so unfair. Want to go back to the pre-fluoridation years of 1939/45 for something to complain about? Or how about 1918 and the Spanish Flu that killed more than 50 million people? Or how about the Black Plague of 1346-1353? We are largely past these types of pandemics because of public health initiatives. But when public health officials suggest that fluoridation of public water is a benefit, some disagree and resent the imposition of broad public health initiatives. Where would we be without their advice?
There is a simple answer don’t swallow. Swish it around in your mouth to get the dental benefits and then spit it out, and reach for a glass of purchased unfluoridated water and then swallow. Or even cheaper, make friends with a neighbour in our surrounding communities and just bum some water. You actually don’t drink as much as you think. And evidence suggests that what you drink doesn’t hurt you. Unless of course you think it does, and then by golly it does. It’s called the placebo effect and it’s more powerful than most medications.
2 The issue of how and where the sodium fluorosilicate is sourced is a bogus issue. It doesn’t depend where it is sourced, but rather is it sufficiently pure to not introduce toxic ingredients. It doesn’t. As I mentioned last night some of the more commonly used medications come from sources you would rather not know about. Premarin – from the urine of pregnant mares, and the increasingly common use of fecal transplant for patients with C. difficile, where you take the feces (poop) of a close family member, encapsulate it, and ask the patient to take it orally to re-establish the intestinal flora. And not mentioned but an interesting piece of trivia. The natural red dye used in food products and lipstick is sourced from crushed Cochineal bugs. Don’t be worried about where a chemical or ingredient is sourced, be concerned as to whether the company is doing the proscribed testing and quality control.
3) Speaking loudly and forcefully doesn’t make your argument any stronger.
4) The issue of environmental contamination was raised in a couple of deputations. That’s an issue we should all be concerned about, but probably doesn’t apply here. Water naturally has fluoride in it. I understand the fluoride levels in the groundwater in the area surrounding Parry Sound is higher than normal with levels that might be in excess of 1.5 mg / litre. That may explain why one area resident has no cavities despite not benefiting from fluoridated water as a child, or they could be a conscientious brusher, or they could have good genetics. The Town sources its water from Georgian Bay which would not have the same benefits of this enriched natural fluoride source. (See the map below and this Wikipedia article for the source of this map.)
Returning to the issue of environmental contamination I would suggest people worry more about what we flush down the toilets in our pee and poop. The pharmaceuticals we take, partially metabolize, and then excrete have been shown to have a profound impact on amphibians. How do we solve that problem? And what about the people who like to wash surfactants down the drain, and the plastic microparticles found in so many consumer goods? Fluoride is in fact a natural ingredient that is widely found in nature and many water sources.
5) The issue of fluoride and calcium. They are not nearly the same nor do they play the same role in animal physiology. Calcium behaves as a doubly charged cation; fluoride acts a singly charged anion. Calcium has characteristics more like Beryllium, Magnesium, Strontium and Barium than Fluorine. Fluorine behaves more like Chlorine, Bromine and Iodine. Fluoride does not replace calcium. Calcium and fluoride can react to form CaF2, which is largely insoluble.
6) Let’s talk about folic acid supplementation. This is a synthetic chemical that is added to most packaged foods we buy. Its purpose? To prevent congenital malformation and neural tube defects in the children of women who are pregnant. It is important to be taken before conception. So we pretty much put it into all packaged grain based foods, think enriched wheat flour among other foods. So we are all ingesting folic acid to benefit people who aren’t ‘me’. Who made that decision? Don’t we have rights? Actually I can handle it. I have come to realize it’s not always about ‘me’. Can you handle it?
7) Providing free dental services to those who may not be able to afford it. A nice idea but it only works if people take advantage of it. How many people now suffer from debilitating and expensive chronic disease that could have been avoided had they regularly visited a physician when younger? And medical care has been free for decades.
It’s really not a significant sacrifice for the ‘older folks’ in Town to think a little more generously and provide the benefit of fluoridation to those who can most benefit from it. Buy the water you ingest if you think it makes a difference and help those who can benefit from fluoridation. And be cautious about sourcing water from your neighbours with a well. Not only should you worry about E. coli and coliform, but you may actually be getting an even higher dose of fluoride than what is provided by the public water system in Parry Sound. But it will be all natural.
Sometimes it’s not always about “me, me, me’. Sometimes it’s about ‘others, others, others’, or society and the planet as a whole. Our parents came to understand this and the occasional need for personal sacrifice.
Check out the regions of ‘blue’. We are in one of them.
Geographical areas associated with groundwater having over 1.5 mg/L of naturally occurring fluoride, which is above recommended levels.