Special Report: Flouride facts
Many people are aware of fluoride's benefits, Methuen’s Jen Doherty says, "It helps children not get cavities." John Burke of Cambridge explains, "It's a good thing. That's why I still have my choppers."
It's in toothpaste, and many towns add it to drinking water. Dr. Joseph Kalil, a Methuen dentist notices more cavities in patients who come from towns without fluoridated water. He says, "It's quite evident when we see patients that have excessive amounts of decay compared to people who reside in communities with fluoridation."
But fluoride in its raw form is a dangerous chemical. Just last month, a fluoride spill at this Massachusetts water treatment plant sent three workers to the hospital with burns and breathing problems.
Even on toothpaste - a warning states, "If more than used for brushing is accidentally swallowed... Contact a poison control center."
And several studies seem to support and point to a fluoride danger.
One study found high doses of fluoride lead to behavioral problems.
Another states that fluoride breaks down lead in water pipes. And a third revealed a link between fluoride and higher rates of bone cancer in boys. Myron Coplan, a researcher in fluoride says, "There is absolutely no need to ingest fluoride of any kind."
But health experts aren't backing down. Many say these studies are inconclusive. Right now, lawmakers are weighing their options before they vote to put fluoride in all large water supplies.
Dr. Myron Allukian of Boston has been looking at this issue for more than 40 years. He explains, "It's safe, effective, economical and feasible." He points out that the amount of fluoride dissolved in water is so small that it's relatively harmless. And that every dollar of fluoridated water saves 38 dollars in dental care. Dr. Allukian says, "Everyone benefits, kids benefit, seniors benefit."
If the vote passes, roughly 90% of Massachusetts’s drinking water will have fluoride. In the meantime, if you don't want it in your water - there's always the option of spring water - which usually has no fluoride added.
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