People often ask us our stance on whether Fluoride should be added to the tap water. Probably more than any other question on tap water quality.
Most can agree that contaminants like Lead or Arsenic are bad for you and shouldn’t be anywhere near our tap water. But many people are torn on the issue of Fluoride. Some support adding it to the water supply, others think it's a crime. Here at ClearlyFiltered we realize our job isn't to change anyone's mind on the matter, but simply to share what we have learned in the last decade while researching the topic and speaking with numerous scientists and other experts.
Here's what we've learned! UnFILTERED Episode 1 - Fluoride
For the sake of simplicity, let’s call those in favor of adding Fluoride to the water supply “Pro-Fluoride.”
And those who oppose it, “Anti-Fluoride.”
On one side, the “Pro-Fluoride” group believes that adding Fluoride to the water supply is the best way to help people all over the country maintain healthy teeth. And that doing so poses no significant risks and the practice is safe.
On the other hand, you have the Anti-Fluoride group. They argue that there are known health risks associated with ingesting Fluoride at levels that can be found in the tap water. And the fact that people are being forced to consume something that may actually be harmful is wrong. They believe that using the water supply as the way to deliver Fluoride takes away an individual’s freedom of choice in the matter. They don’t think anyone should be forced to drink water spiked with Fluoride or any chemical for that matter.
For full transparency just so you know where we happen to stand on the issue, we fall into the Anti-Fluoride camp. Although, I think it’s important to mention we’re not exactly fluoride-haters. I myself happen to use fluoride toothpaste when I brush my teeth. And there’s Fluoride in the mouthwash that I use. So, I don’t think fluoride itself is evil, I just don’t want it to be in the water I drink everyday. For me, the most compelling argument has to do with how Fluoride is used/administered. Not whether there are benefits to using Fluoride.
We’ll try our best to cover both sides of the argument so you can make up your own mind up about it. Obviously, we’re biased but I think it’s important to try and hear both sides in order to be fully informed. If there’s something you think we missed and should have included, be sure to leave us a comment or send us an email. We’d love to hear from you! email@example.com
First let’s start with the basics:
What is Water “Fluoridation?”
Water Fluoridation is a fancy word for the process of intentionally adding fluoride to the tap water supply for consumption by the general public. Yes, it’s true, there are places where Fluoride occurs naturally but they are incredibly rare and they aren’t relevant for this discussion. We’re talking about where the water system is being supplemented or "spiked" with Fluoride intentionally.
Why do they add Fluoride to the water?
Numerous studies have shown that the use of Fluoride can effectively reduce the number of cavities a person gets. So Fluoride is added by the water utility to prevent tooth decay and maintain healthy teeth. There is debate however, about the benefit of Fluoride applied directly onto the teeth vs. Fluoride added to a liquid solution like water and consumed via drinking.
Does my water have fluoride in it?
If you live in the US, then yes, chances are you have Fluoride added to your everyday tap water. About 75% (or every 3 out of 4 people) have Fluoridated water supplies. Those who don’t are mostly in rural parts of the country or are on well-water.
Which countries Fluoridate their water?
Map: Wikipedia Commons
& Hong Kong
(Source information: British Fluoridation Society: https://www.bfsweb.org/extent-of-water-fluoridation)
Where does the Fluoride they add come from?
Most of the Fluoridation chemicals being added to municipal tap water are actually by-products of other chemical manufacturing processes. Specifically, the process used by the phosphate fertilizer industry which produces significant Fluoride chemical by-products which are then repackaged and used for tap water Fluoridation.
Who supports Fluoridation?
Water Fluoridation is supported by many large health organizations. The number of endorsements Fluoride has is one of the strongest arguments in its favor. Proponents include:
Who opposes Water Fluoridation?
Fluoride Action Network
Many Alternative Health Practitioners
Those with chemical sensitivities
Pure Drinking Water Advocates
Is fluoride good or bad for you?
Now that’s a good question. Here’s where things get a little sticky. The answer depends greatly on who you ask!
Let’s dive into the arguments most commonly used to defend the practice of water fluoridation. Here are some I find particularly convincing:
The Pro-Fluoride Argument:
- Proponents of Fluoridation often cite the fact that the CDC calls water fluoridation one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century.
- It’s almost universally supported by major health organizations. The list The American Dental Association, World Health Organization and Center for Disease Control all support community water fluoridation as a generally safe method to prevent cavities.
- Fluoride has been added to tap water in the U.S. for over 70 years and has a proven history of being safe & effective. (If it wasn’t, do you really think we’d keep doing it?)
- The non-existence of credible, peer-reviewed studies that show Fluoride is problematic at levels found in tap water.
- The recommended amount in water is only 0.7 ppm which is enough to have a benefit but too little to cause harm in most cases.
- If we know it works and is safe then we have a responsibility to provide it for the general benefit.
The Anti-Fluoride Argument:
- As high as 40% of adolescent children have one or more observable signs of dental "Fluorosis" which is a condition seen in children's teeth that indicates excessive fluoride exposure has occurred. (CDC, 2010)
- "dental cavities have decreased in countries both with and without water fluoridation" -Dr. Philippe Grandjean (Harvard, 2016)
- Adding Fluoride to the tap water is a violation of someone’s personal choice called “Informed Consent.” (ie You don’t have an option not to receive it).
- "Fluoridation goes against all principles of pharmacology. It’s obsolete." - Dr. Arvid Carlsson, Nobel Prize winner in Medicine/Physiology.
- Adding any medication to the tap water is a bad idea, you cannot control the dose someone receives. Having one standard amount in the water doesn’t take into account the person who is consuming it. Babies and small children for instance have the same concentration in their water as a 350lb NFL lineman.
- The amount of Fluoride you intake is proportional to the amount of water you drink. So, someone (like an athlete or someone in warmer climates) receives a higher amount of Fluoride than another person.
- Fluoride is only meant to be applied topically on the surface of the teeth, drinking/consuming is not the correct application for it. (You’re supposed to spit out your toothpaste, not swallow it).
- It’s unnecessary - You already get more than enough Fluoride by brushing your teeth and/or using mouthwash.
- The percentage of people (especially young people) showing signs of Dental Fluorosis is cause for alarm - (Dental Fluorosis is the technical term for what happens when too much fluoride is absorbed by the bone, or in this case teeth and the result is white or brown spots that appear on the teeth).
- The EPA’s limit which is set at 4.0ppm is far too high for safety. Dental Fluorosis can occur at significantly lower concentrations. Some studies have shown it at less than ½ that amount.
- Anti-Fluoride groups have raised concerns related to the importation of these chemicals from other countries such as China.
Some general facts about Fluoride:
As recently as 2015 the governments’ Department of Health and Human Services actually lowered their recommended amount of Fluoride for tap water to 0.7 ppm (from 0.7-1.2 ppm).
Some Pro-Fluoridation people say: At these lower recommended concentrations any perceived risks are greatly reduced.
The Anti-Fluoridation crowd says: Less Fluoride is good. But that’s just a recommendation, not the limit. Fluoride can still be up to 4.0 ppm anywhere in the country and not be in violation. Some also view this as an admission that we have been getting too much Fluoride for decades!
Fluoride isn’t actually FDA approved.
While it is the only medication added to the water supply, Fluoride has never been FDA approved for the prevention of tooth decay or cavities. It’s not regulated like a medication, instead it is considered a tap water “additive.”
The Fluoride being added to the tap water in many cases isn’t pure fluoride. Unlike prescription medications, Fluoride does not need to be “Pharmaceutical Grade”, but instead a lesser “Industrial Grade” chemical can be substituted and then added to your water.
Children are at a much higher risk for Fluoride exposure in excess of what is recommended.
The CDC even cautions new mothers on using Tap water to mix with infant formula because it increases the likelihood that the baby will develop dental fluorosis.
Toothpastes come with a warning label. Generally, it says either “Seek Immediate Medical Attention” or “Contact POISON Control if more than a pea-sized amount is Swallowed.”
Fluoride is most effective when it is applied topically. The question of whether swallowing it is the right method, I think, is one of the most legitimate objections to water Fluoridation.
Common Questions:Q: I have a pitcher that I bought on Amazon or at Walmart/Target, does it remove Fluoride.
A: No, the top 3 best-selling water pitchers on the market do not remove fluoride.
Q: What about an R.O. (Reverse Osmosis)?
A: In most cases, an RO will remove Fluoride but by varying degrees. The downside to Reverse Osmosis is how much water it wastes in order to purify the clean water. Typically it wastes 3 gallons for every 1 it produces. It’s effective but not very inefficient. So if you're looking at ways to remove Fluoride, R.O. is an option, but it requires a plumber to come install and usually requires drilling a hole in your kitchen countertop (which pretty much rules out everyone who rents their house/apartment).
Should I remove fluoride from water? And does filtered water have fluoride? To get a water filter that removes Fluoride, Click the Link Below: