On Sunday, I posted about the benefits of drinking tap water and I was thrilled to see over 40 comments on the story, so thank you for sharing your opinions! Your comments varied of course, and they got me thinking.
UltimaMom wrote: "I am confused. I keep hearing some say adding fluoride to water is actually bad for your health and really not necessary. I honestly don't know one way or another." Ditto. I wasn't aware of the strong debate about the pros and cons of tap water until I read through all your comments. Wallylicious wrote: "Tap water is NOT healthy. Flouride is toxic when ingested, and only helps your teeth when applied topically." On the flip side, AprilDJC proclaimed: "I use tap water and find nothing wrong with it." Not sure what to believe, I decided to do some more research.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a section on their site dedicated to drinking water. It's incredibly detailed and very helpful. I read the most recent surgeon general's fact sheet about the fluoridation of water and it states: "Scientific studies have found that people living in communities with fluoridated water have fewer cavities than those living where the water is not fluoridated." Basically, the CDC ensures that fluoride in water is safe and healthy.
However, digging deeper on the site, I found that some communities have higher levels of fluoride in their water system than normal. In communities with fluoride levels greater than 2 mg/L, people are at a higher risk for bone fractures and children 8 years old and younger are at increased risk for severe enamel fluorosis, a condition that causes staining and pitting of the enamel surface of teeth. The CDC recommends giving children 8 years and younger drinking water from an alternative water source if the fluoride levels are greater than 2mg/L.
If you drink tap water and want to get your fluoride level tested, you can contact your local water utility, or local, county or state health department. You can also check out the My Water's Fluoride section of the CDC website.
So is tap water safe? The answer is...it depends.