TODAY'S QUESTION: Should Columbia lower fluoride levels in its drinking water to meet new federal recommendations?

Thursday, January 13, 2011 | 1:30 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Fluoride levels in Columbia’s drinking water are higher than a new recommendation from the EPA and Department of Health and Human Services. 

The federal agencies recommended that the fluoride level for drinking water be set at 0.7 parts fluoride per million parts of water. The previous recommended amount was between 0.7 and 1.2 parts per million.

Columbia’s average fluoride level in 2010 was 1.01 parts per million, according to a city water testing report.

The U.S. has added fluoride to drinking water since the 1940s to aid in cavity prevention. The two agencies moved to lower fluoride levels, noting that Americans get fluoride from more sources than drinking water.

Despite fluoride’s positive effect on teeth, overexposure can cause fluorosis among children, which results in streaking or spotting of teeth.

The EPA sets a maximum contaminant level for fluoride in the Safe Drinking Water Act at 4 parts per million. Columbia's water supply has consistently stayed around 1 part per million, according to the Columbia Water and Light Department.

Should the city lower fluoride levels in the drinking water to meet new federal recommendations?


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Michael Williams January 13, 2011 | 3:00 p.m.

Wouldn't it be prudent to see if we have a problem before changing?

After all, we have one heckuva large data set of teeth in this area that drink this water over years ranging from birth to umpteendecades. 10-15 local dentists attending a 2-hour City Council workshop should clear this question up in a real hurry.

For their participation, we could even provide them with.....I was gonna say sugary donuts, but never mind.

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks January 13, 2011 | 3:43 p.m.

What happened to the first story on this with the same question that was asked 2 days ago?

(Report Comment)
Stefan Bellm January 13, 2011 | 4:49 p.m.

Corey, it is hyperlinked in the lead, but here it is:

(Report Comment)
Kevin Gamble January 13, 2011 | 11:25 p.m.

Michael asks, "Wouldn't it be prudent to see if we have a problem before changing?"

My take is, shouldn't we determine if there's really a need before adding something to our water system to begin with? Adding fluoride to the water supply predated the current pervasive reach of fluoride toothpastes and dental treatments, and was never an ideal delivery system - fluoride is only effective while it contacts the teeth, and becomes a non-beneficial toxin once ingested. So now we have an industrial toxin being added to the water year after year when the general societal need for it has long since passed.

Let's not let ourselves think that fluoride in our water is the "default" state. It's a conscious choice to artificially keep adding it. If public health was the only concern, why not add antibiotics and vaccines to our water? Or maybe antidepressants, painkillers, and vitamins? Once you consider how crazy those ideas sound, fluoride starts to make a lot less sense.

(Report Comment)
Eric Cox January 14, 2011 | 3:25 p.m.

Just the fact that it's in there is one more reason I don't drink the city tap water, as Kevin mentioned it's only beneficial when it touches your teeth, and it's toxic.
Mountain Valley all the way.

(Report Comment)
Chris Cady January 14, 2011 | 4:46 p.m.

Eric, your post got me curious enough to look up Mountain Spring and see what kind of quality testing they do on their water. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they test it fairly extensively. The big list of pesticides, solvents and other toxins EPA requires for drinking water systems only seems to be done once a year though. I think the City has to do it monthly or quarterly. Not trying to create any suspicion about Mountain Spring's product, just pointing out that bottled water does not necessarily follow the same regs.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have a filter on my tap, mostly because I don't like the chlorine taste.

Kevin: They already add a cocktail of drugs, caffeine etc. to the water in a lot of cities. It's called 'drinking out of the river.' LOL

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 14, 2011 | 5:17 p.m.

Getting a dose of fluoride in your water and food IS the default state.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire January 14, 2011 | 5:47 p.m.

Yes Mikey, I'm sure it would be terribly expensive for the city to simply stop putting it into your water.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 14, 2011 | 8:34 p.m.

Natural fluoride everywhere. USDA data in 2004. I doubt plants, wells, and animals have changed their biochemistry much in the interim.

I especially liked the numbers for beer, wines, various teas (especially the instant variety), various popular bottled waters....all compared to a sampling of drinking (tap) waters.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire January 17, 2011 | 3:28 p.m.

And I doubt even more seriously that Mike will ever demonstrate one honest trait under scrutiny.

What Mikey has done here is post some numbers and then took upon himself a tone of some kind of snide gloating, inferring somehow that the numbers that are indicated in the publication somehow support his point of view.

Since Mikey is a chemist, and alleges himself to be the "best"
he knows the thousands of fallacies of logic in his presentation. He is simply hoping that you don't. Kind of like Sarah Palin struggling to make an incoherent answer to a simple question that she could have answered by voicing her unfamiliarity with a term. She threw out some kind of animal feces, hoping that everyone who saw it would swallow it whole. Mikey wants you to swallow a bunch of toxic waste. At this point, I don't know why.

But yes, follow the link to the main report and compare the amount of fluoride in the bottled water to that which comes from municipal tap. Compare the amount of fluoride in raw grape fruit to the amount found in concentrated grape fruit. Consider the source of water for agricultural production and consider the source of water that was used in processing the food.

Consider that yet another person has displayed a high level of contempt for the validity of your thoughts. Or your need for them.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking January 17, 2011 | 4:03 p.m.

Paul Allaire wrote:

"Mikey wants you to swallow a bunch of toxic waste."

No. He's just pointing out that there are a lot more sources of fluoride (and quite natural ones) than what they put in drinking water.

Personally, I don't think we need to fluoridate water supplies anymore - we have a lot of other sources of fluoride that we didn't have when we started. But it's not harmful in the levels we get it. I have no problem drawing a glass of city water and drinking it - in fact, I think it's rather good (compared to another place I lived).


(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire January 17, 2011 | 4:11 p.m.

Hmmm. I wonder how much of the fluoride found in the foods listed was "natural". Also, if food contains fluoride, why did someone find it necessary to insert into your drink? I mean, it isn't like we don't eat a lot of food.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking January 17, 2011 | 4:39 p.m.

Paul Allaire wrote:

"I wonder how much of the fluoride found in the foods listed was "natural""

Probably all of it. Food companies don't put things in their food that they don't need to - it costs them to add anything, and I suspect putting fluoride in food (when it's already in municipal water and toothpaste) isn't one of their priorities.


(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire January 17, 2011 | 4:52 p.m.

So I guess that explains the vast difference between the amount of fluoride found in a raw grapefruit and that found in grapefruit juice concentrate? I would tend to think that a lot of water gets used in the preparation of processed foods, probably from the TAP. Why do you insist on arguing before you even read?

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire January 17, 2011 | 4:59 p.m.

And reading further I see a similar situation with apples. It seems probable that tap water is used to reconstitute the juice. The amount found in apple sauce indicates to me that some apples were essentially cooked down of concentrated, as it is not much higher than found in raw apples. I doubt much of the fluoride on that list is "natural". I bet even Mikey knows that little.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire January 17, 2011 | 5:06 p.m.

Yes, if Mikey wanted to make an honest argument he would say it's useless to try cleaning up your source of drinking water because the places that process your groceries for you mainly use water that is tainted in a similar manner. But Mikey isn't even that honest. He wants you to believe that it is "natural".

(Report Comment)

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