Water Fluoridation: A Matter Of Civil Rights?

2011 is already proving to be a real handful for those in support of fluoride and water fluoridation. The US Centers For Disease Control has released a report stating that over 40% of American adolescents suffer from dental flurosis as a result of overexposure to the chemical, the Department of Health and Human Services has ordered a reduction in the amounts of fluoride added to water supplies, and potential legal action continues to mount on a large scale in Tennessee, New York, and Texas. Now civil rights leaders from the state of Georgia (which include a former UN ambassador and former mayor of Atlanta) are moving to ask local legislators to repeal the states water fluoridation laws as a question of civil rights as it appears to unfairly affect poorer, African American communities.

 

The idea of water fluoridation was to help provide dental protection for those who cannot as easily afford care. However, studies have shown that children from these areas actually have higher instances (up to 10% higher) of dental decay than that of higher income families. In addition to having more cavities, this same group also has a higher percentage of dental fluorosis from overexposure. The allegations by the Georgia civil rights leaders who are proposing this end to fluoridation are that fluoride in the water is unfairly affecting the poorer communities due to their inability to buy non-fluoridated water. The numbers dont lie, as African Americans have a higher rate of cavities AND a higher rate of symptoms related to fluorosis.

 

The Department of Health and Human Services issued a notice recently that because infants are more susceptible to the effects of fluoride overexposure, their formula should not be mixed with fluoridated water. However, these infants werent even considered in the numbers for their risk calculation when deciding to lower the amounts of fluoride rather than banning it altogether like so many other countries have already done.

 

The main concern being addressed in this letter to the Georgia legislature is that numbers of cavities continue to rise in communities that have been fluoridated for many years. The civil rights concerns are that because certain medical conditions that disproportionately affect African Americans such as diabetes and kidney disease are also more susceptible to the effects of fluoride according to the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences.

 

Sources:

Letter to Georgia Senate Majority Leader

The National Academic Press

Oral Health Status of Georgias Children

The New York City Council

 

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