By Joe Farkus, NDG Contributing Writer
While fluoride exists naturally in water, cities and municipalities have been adding more of it in drinking water to combat dental cavities, prevent tooth decay, and improve overall dental health. Dallas has been doing this for decades and for the past 5 years, a group of dedicated activists has been fighting what they see as a major health concern regarding the amount of fluoride added to the city’s water supply. Despite past failures to get the City of Dallas to end its water fluoridation program, these activists believe they have new evidence that will finally turn the tide in their favor.
“You are deciding between possible tooth decay reduction and expected brain damage,” Regina Imburgia, a leader of the group Activists for Truth and Liberty, told the Dallas City Council during a council meeting in October. “Look into the 12-year fluoride study that was just published on Sept. 19, 2017. “
The study Imburgia referenced in her comments to the council caught the attention of national news outlets upon its publication. It evaluated roughly 299 pairs of Mexican mothers and their children, testing the children for cognitive development over a period of 12 years. While the study did find a decrease in intelligence test scores in children who were exposed to increased levels of fluoride, the study’s researchers only found a possible connection to fluoride exposure for children while they were still in their mother’s womb – not after they were born. It is also important to note, studies that have yet to be replicated – such as the one in question – are generally not taken as concrete evidence of a phenomenon.
“The credibility of this study is beyond reproach,” Imburgia told the Council. “This study isolated fluoride and fluoride alone as the determining factor that lowered the IQ.”
There have been numerous objections to the interpretation some activists have taken from the report. The American Dental Association (ADA) responded in a press release claiming the report’s findings are not applicable to the United States due to the significant differences in how citizens of Mexico and the U.S. intake fluoride (the substance is not added to salt in the U.S. and is only added to water when the naturally occurring level of fluoride in water is lower than the recommended level) and the unknown nature of how participants in the study ingested fluoride. Critics have also been quick to point out the study’s findings do not reflect how much fluoride participants were exposed to through naturally occurring levels of fluoride in their water.
According to the city’s 2016 Water Quality Report, the average level of fluoride in Dallas’s public water is 0.7 parts per million (ppm) – well within the recommended standards of the CDC (1.0 ppm), the US Public Health Service (0.7 ppm), and the Environmental Protection Agency (which has set a limit of 4 milligrams per liter).
Despite this, Imburgia and her fellow activists remain convinced Dallas’ fluoridation program is dangerous. In her opinion, the Dallas City Council has other reasons for not agreeing with her conclusions.
“The status quo has been comfortable for them,” Imburgia told the North Dallas Gazette. “Over the years, being called anti-fluoride or whatever – you’re a kook or a nut or a tin-foil hat. They don’t want those labels.”
The Dallas City Council will likely have to decide on whether to approve a new contract to fluoridate the city’s water early this year.
Next week, look for Part Two of our coverage on water fluoridation in North Texas, where we discuss which of Dallas’s surrounding cities add fluoride into their water and which do not and why.