The United States is one of the only countries in the world that still advocates for artificial water fluoridation as a way to prevent tooth decay, despite its known dangers. And new research reveals that municipal water supplies aren't the only sources affected by this policy, as many private wells throughout America are also brimming with fluoride chemicals, oftentimes at levels that far exceed the maximum government limits for safe exposure.
One such problematic area is Maine, where granite layers that exist deep beneath the surface leach fluoride into groundwater and private wells. In some parts of the state, nearly half of all private wells sampled were found to contain fluoride at levels exceeding the state maximum of 2 milligrams per liter (mg/L). And in other areas, fluoride levels exceed the national maximum of 4 mg/L.
"The sort of levels we're talking about that are high in China are the sort of levels we see in some private wells," stated Maine state toxicologist Andrew Smith to Scientific American, which recently covered the issue.
The issue of too much fluoride in well water is often ignored or overlooked, as most people with private wells don't deliberately add fluoride to their water, and most wells, it is assumed, don't have added fluoride. But naturally occurring fluoride is a real issue in some areas, as is contamination from local municipal water sources that deliberately pump fluoride chemicals through the tap.
In Maine, an astounding percentage of private wells contain fluoride at levels that could lead to dental fluorosis, a condition where the teeth become pitted and discolored, and in some cases decay. Exposure to too much fluoride is also linked to decreased IQ, as evidenced by a 2012 review of some two dozen studies that linked high fluoride exposure to cognitive decline.
The results of this review were published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
"Fluoride seems to fit in with lead, mercury, and other poisons that cause chemical brain drain," stated Philippe Grandjean, the adjunct professor of environmental health at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) who led the groundbreaking review. "The effect of each toxicant may seem small, but the combined damage on a population scale can be serious, especially because the brain power of the next generation is crucial to all of us."
Many areas of the U.S. are overexposed to toxic fluoride
Maine isn't the only place in the U.S. where excess fluoride is a problem -- a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) sampling of well water across the U.S. found that many areas of the Midwest, including in the Texas panhandle and western Oklahoma, as well Nebraska, Idaho, Iowa and several northeastern states, have areas with high fluoride levels.
Even the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recognizes that fluoride exposure is a problem, having revised its recommendations for artificial water fluoridation back in 2012. Now, the department says that a maximum of 0.7 mg/L of fluoride is optimal for water, a level that is far exceeded by what millions of Americans are exposed to on a daily basis.
"Mandatory fluoridation is medical treatment," stated Professor Arnon Afek, an expert in pathology and medical administration who serves as Israel's Health Ministry director-general. Israel recently banned all water fluoridation in agreement with the latest science showing that the class of chemicals is highly neurotoxic.
"Individuals have the right to decide if they want it or not. The question is not if fluoride is beneficial but how it should be delivered. We cannot force people. ... With fluoridation of tap water, there is no free choice."
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