Ignorance is bliss. If we do not know something, even if it's harmful, we may not find cause to prevent it unless something observable occurs.
Dr. Frederick McKay first brought a particular issue to light when he opened up a dental clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Scores of children had brown-stained teeth, together with Dr. G.V. Black, they determined the cause of the mottled teeth was a local water source.
Welcome, fellow Hivians, to our tenth installment of the Environmental Impact Series. We discuss how various elements on Earth impact our environment, lives, and society during our series.
In this post, we will discuss fluoride. We will cover where it comes from and how it interacts with our world to the degree that includes its use in fluoridated water.
In our Environmental Impacts series, we discussed how various events or elements impact our environment. Environment Overview, volcanoes, mercury, wildfire, inferno, climate change, black gold, smart phones, and the coronavirus are topics we've covered in the past that continue to affect us today.
Join us now as we continue to the topic of fluoride.
What is Fluoride?
Fluoride comes from the element Fluorine, one of the most reactive elements in the periodic table. Unbound, fluorine, is a highly toxic yellowish-green gas. Fluorine becomes fluoride when referring to the ion itself or after combining it with other elements.
Fluorine occurs naturally throughout nature. In soil, it's presence can range anywhere from 330 ppm to upwards of 3500 ppm as fluoride ions. Rain falling upon fluoridated earth can have fluoride ions pass into the water. Water that settles into underground deposits can quickly build up over time and be consumed by any population that taps off into that source.
How does society obtain fluoride for use?
Colorado Springs, Colorado, unknowingly tapped into a water source containing high levels of fluoride. Their fluoridated water consumption led to the darkly stained teeth of children whose teeth were still in development. Drs. McKay and Dr. G.V. Black spent considerable time researching this phenomenon in the early 1900s. However, when they petitioned the town to change their water source, the cases of "mottled" teeth showed a significant reduction.
Their collaboration with the ALCOA chemical company chief chemist led to the discovery of fluoride within multiple wells throughout the state. Further collaboration with the National Institute of Health led to fluoride's recommended guidelines within the water to prevent mottled teeth, otherwise known as fluorosis, and yet provide children with protection against tooth decay.
A Medical Achievement
The events discussed thus far eventually led to widespread testing of approximately 30,000 schoolchildren in Michigan. Over 15 years, researchers monitored these kids and determined that, as a result of fluoridating water, instances of tooth decay dropped 60%. The research set the path for fluoridating water across the country.
Fluoride in Water
In our generation, a majority of US cities utilize fluoride in their drinking water supply. Most countries, however, either don't fluoridate the water or have stopped this process. One reason has to do with the introduction of other fluoride sources.
Toothpaste, for instance, contains activated fluoride and can be applied to the teeth multiple times within a day. Fluoridated salt is another product available to replace the consumption of fluoridated water. Society is creating many fluoridated products available to the broad market today.
Dangers of Fluoridated Water
There are dangers in everything we do. If, for instance, you have a scoop of ice cream, you'd be happy with the taste of sweetness that comes with its consumption. However, if that's all you eat, then you may find yourself sick with a tummy-ache.
The same concept applies to everything else, like alcohol or salt. Balance is vital to ensure maximum benefits with minimal adverse effects. Upset that balance, and you'll pay a price that could be too expensive.
There's little to no argument against the success of fluoride use to prevent tooth decay or bacteria growth in the mouth. It works. Current discussions focus on the application of fluoride within society. One issue, for instance, has to do with the dose of fluoride within the water. The same amount utilized for adults is the same that infants will consume. Additional concerns about fluoride's adverse effects involve low IQ, cancer, arthritis, or kidney disease.
The dismissals and arguments about these side effects are so extreme that it borders on a conspiracy. Mainstream science actively dismisses claims researched by concerned groups.
However, one court case involving the EPA is still in debate.
Society does its best to protect us even though, at times, it appears they do so at a monumental distance. My particular problem with societal interventions is that they downplay the adverse effects of a solution for as long as humanly possible. The practice of artificially raising fluoride concentration in water supplies has been in place for nearly 100 years. In that time, multiple countries moved away from the use of fluoridated water. The United States, on the other hand, has this process firmly in place, seemingly headless of new evidence arguing against its use.
There's little we can do about fluoride in the environment. It's an abundant element that binds to almost everything. Even bottled water has it to some degree. Engineering solutions are available to reduce our introduction to almost negligible values, but those solutions are quite costly over the long run. The best option we have is to continue to inform ourselves about this practice and engage in discussions with our local government.
Still, there are other options. You can fill glass jugs of water with minimally infused fluoridated water at various locations for the more problematic. You can also purchase fluoride monitoring kits at a wide variety of vendors online. You can test the water for yourself to see how much fluoride you are consuming. Small filtering systems are also available for purchase.
Ultimately, it is your choice to decide how you want to deal with things. It appears impossible to remove fluorine from anything you consume. It's everywhere. You can even find it in the bottled water you drink. However, it would help if you had a certain level of fluoride for protection against tooth decay. The use of fluorinated products is similar to the use of iodinated-salt. It's an element you need but wouldn't have to have excesses of within your body.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Thanks again, fellow readers, for following on with this series. It's been a great ride, and I've appreciated all the reviews and votes from everyone.
Each topic presented poses different challenges during research. It is essential to cite all available references for this work to ensure that all readers can validate the information presented as they desire. The goal, ultimately, is the dissemination of accurate and thoughtful information. Unfortunately, some topics are more difficult to research than others.
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
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