Should Phoenix continue adding fluoride to its drinking water?
PHOENIX -- The debate over fluoridated water is heating up as Phoenix city leaders decide whether or not to continue the practice. Some medical professionals believe it's toxic soup while others say it's miracle water. Both argue science is on their side.
For more than 20 years, Phoenix has been adding fluoride to its water supply. But now the City Council is considering ending the practice. If that happens, we would become the first major metropolitan area in the country to end water fluoridation.
"My hope is that Phoenix will lead the way for water safety and clean water for our environment," said Dr. Deborah Dykema, owner of The Wellness Center.
She believes the decision is long overdue.
"High fluoride intake and fluoridated water has been linked to things like osteoporosis, osteosarcoma, which is a cancer, thyroid conditions, including low thyroid conditions, hyperthyroidism and high thyroid conditions," Dykema said.
"It's a neuro-toxin, it's actually been linked to increased link to Alzheimer's, it's been linked to lower IQ in children," she continued. "Fluoride is considered to be similar in toxicity to arsenic and lead because of the chronic exposure conditions that we see."
Dr. Howard Farran, who owns Today's Dental, disagrees.
"The American Dental Association, the World Health Organization, the United Nations, there is not a single international scientific group based on reason, science and logic that doesn't wholeheartedly endorse this," Farran said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Classifies fluoridated water as one of the 10 greatest public health initiatives of all time. Farran fears it would be a disservice to stop fluoridating water especially since the biggest beneficiaries are low-income families who can't afford dental care.
"When that little kid is walking around with a toothache, his mother doesn't have insurance, and right now she might not even have a job, and she's looking around the community going is anybody worried about me? Yeah, well, I'm worried about her. I'm worried about her teeth and I'm really worried about her baby's teeth," Farran said.
He points to research showing fluoridated water not only prevents tooth decay but also helps bone development.
"If you don't have that element when you're developing and you're growing, what are you going to make teeth out of, what are you going to make bones out of?" Farran said.
Dykema contends we can get fluoride from other sources and believes we are sacrificing the health of our body in order to protect our teeth.
"There's not the data to show that preventing cavities outweighs the risks of the long-term effects of fluoridating our water," Dykema said.
Which is why she hopes the Phoenix City Council will ban the practice, a decision she believes is inevitable.
"Phoenix can either choose to be the leader or they can choose to be the last holdouts, but it will happen," Dykema said.
Farran believes otherwise.
"We're not taking iodine out of salt, we're not taking vitamin D out of milk, and we're not taking fluoride out of water," he said.
The Fluoride Action Network is hosting a public debate on the issue Wednesday, Sept. 5, 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m., inside Phoenix College's Bulpitt Auditorium, 1202 W. Thomas Road, Phoenix. It's free and open to the public. Farran and Dr. Paul Connet are the featured speakers who will be participating in the debate. It will be moderated by Adam Symonds who is the director of forensics at Arizona State University.
The Phoenix Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee chaired by Phoenix City Councilwoman Thelda Williams is scheduled to vote on the issue on Sept. 11 at 10 a.m.