To the editor:
Some Pine Island residents have asked what the basis was for the addition of fluoride to the Greater Pine Island water. I will try to answer that question for those interested. There are many sources of information on fluoride in water. Many of those are for fluoride concentrations far greater than that to be used by GPIWA. I will use just a few sources of the many that have been examined by me and other members of the board of directors who are invested with the responsibility of deciding this and other issues.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued an advisory last year listing the "optimum" level of fluoride in water as 0.7 ppm. Below that level (current GPIWA water) the protection against cavities is less than desired. From no fluoride to the optimum level the increase in protection is approximately linear while above that level the benefits tend to level off. Dental fluorosis can occur at concentrations anywhere from 0.1 ppm and above. Up to the optimum level any occurrence is very mild, i.e., generally only noticed by dentists and dental technicians. From the optimum to 2.0 ppm the severity increases, but is only a cosmetic concern. The GPIWA intends to employ the optimum fluoride level.
A major source of scientific information is in a 514-page article by the National Research Council, a non-government organization made up up the National Academy of Science, the National Academy of Engineers and the Institute of Medicine, very august organizations entitled "Fluoride in Drinking Water." Their study contained 54 pages of references and many tables and charts. From their observations you can conclude that: at the optimum level there is no health problem with fluoride on the liver, kidneys, skeleton, arthritis, thyroid, pineal gland and only very mild or mild dental fluorosis. At levels much higher than the optimum many, if not all, of these glands and the skeleton can be adversely affected, but at the optimum level beneficial effects are provided to all ages, from infants to seniors.
The Center for Disease Control has published that the use of fluoridated water is suitable for use in preparing infant formula. Some mild fluorosis may occur, but that is not a health concern. For those with concerns, bottled water (making sure that it is fluoride free, not always the case) is suggested.
Basically, the basis for the vote to add fluoride to the GPIWA water by the board of directors was based on science. They are convinced that their decision is in the best interest of the users of the GPIWA water. Over 17,000 community water systems are currently using fluoridated water in the U.S. We believe that it is time for Pine Island to join the majority of American citizens that enjoy those benefits.
Dr. Dennis J. Ward, PhD
Vice President of the Greater Pine Island Water Association, Inc.
St. James City