To the editor:
Referring to the letter by Alan MacMillan on the Jan. 12 article “Fluoridated water case is going to federal court,” my first thought was “so what?” This is not the first time that those who oppose the benefit of community water fluoridation have filed lawsuits. None have ever been won in a “court of last resort,” which is the highest court hearing the suit in a series of appeals. Why would anyone think it’s going to be any different this time?
I have never read a letter with more obfuscation, misdirection and contortion of facts. For example, when calcium fluoride and sodium fluoride are put in water, the fluoride ions released from the molecules are identical. Calcium fluoride has two fluoride ions and sodium fluoride only has one and sodium fluoride is more soluble than calcium fluoride. This is high school chemistry.
The idea that the fluoride from the city’s water supply would affect the fluoride concentration of the ocean is ridiculous. The ocean has a naturally occurring fluoride concentration of 1.0 part per million. Rockport’s primary water source has a naturally occurring fluoride concentration of 0.5 ppm and you only need to increase it 0.2 ppm to reach an optimal level to help prevent decay. This is still below the natural concentration of fluoride in the ocean.
Fluoride is the 13th most common element in the earth’s crust. It’s not a medication. As we all know, it is found naturally in many water sources. Many of those against fluoride supplementation make a distinction between the fluoride found naturally in water sources and that which is used as a supplement. Any chemist will tell you the fluoride ions are indistinguishable.
The letter writer refers to sodium fluoride as a “waste” product of the fertilizer and aluminum industries. A waste product is an unwanted or unusable material, something which is of no use. Sodium fluoride is a “byproduct” in the manufacture of phosphate fertilizer and whether it comes from Florida, China, or someplace else, all fluoride additives must adhere to a strict set of quality standards, testing and certification by the American Water Works Association and the National Sanitation Foundation/American National Standards Institute under the 1974 Clean Drinking Water Act. Phosphoric acid, found in many beverages, is another byproduct of the phosphate fertilizer industry. Just because it is a byproduct doesn’t infer a negative connotation.
There “is” a statistical difference in cavities between communities that fluoridate their drinking water and those that do not. There are studies to confirm this fact. I have seen it personally when volunteering on a mobile access to care van treating poor children in fluoridated and non-fluoridated communities. Community water fluoridation has the greatest benefit for the economically disadvantaged. It is a public health issue. Would you deny this health benefit to those most in need?
John P. Fisher, DDS