Fluoride is a slightly touchy subject in water treatment, and many consumers want to remove it from their taps.
While it’s a naturally occurring mineral found in varying levels in all drinking sources, most cities deliberately add it to the supply. Since we all need water to survive, many of us wonder why it’s added and, more importantly, how we can remove it.
Today we’ll explore the history of this element and discuss which treatment methods work.
Let’s drink up!
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is one of the most abundant elements on Earth. Traces of the mineral appear in water as it dissolves nearby rocks. But it’s also present in the air and basically every plant and animal.
While fluoride isn’t an essential nutrient, it plays a role in your skeletal health. It also has several industrial uses. This mineral is an important part of making aluminum and steel. It’s also an ingredient in medicines and a common pesticide. But nowadays, it’s a regular additive in water worldwide because of some health benefits.
The History of Fluoride in Water
Almost all water sources have a certain amount of fluoride in them. Some may even have dangerous levels that require treatment.
But in the 1930s, researchers found a link between water sources with high levels of the mineral and better tooth health. After continued studies, Grand Rapids, Michigan, became the first city to add it to the tap in 1945. As of 2018, 73% of Americans have fluoride in their faucets.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says it’s one of the top ten public health achievements of the 20th century. Tooth decay has seen a dramatic decline since this practice went into effect.
However, it isn’t without controversy. A small portion of people cite conspiracy theories about mind control experiments. But less paranoid folk worry about the lack of quality research on the practice.
So, what are the benefits of fluoride, and are there any good reasons to remove it from your water?
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What Are the Benefits of Fluoride in Water?
As mentioned above, it can help prevent tooth decay. Problems with your oral health can do much more than ruin your smile. It can contribute to health issues such as heart disease and sleep apnea.
Fluoride in the water seems to be more effective on kids than adults. But there’s some evidence that it can improve dental issues throughout your life.
This element is also crucial for developing bodies. It stimulates bone-growing cells and growth hormones. While most people get enough in their diet, chronic deficiencies can lead to problems with your skeletal health.
What Are the Disadvantages of Fluoride in Water?
Too much fluoride, especially for infants and young children, can create white spots, stains, or weakened enamel on teeth. Most of the time, though, it’s a cosmetic issue that doesn’t affect your health. Still, a CDC study showed that as many as 40% of teens had these issues. As a result, they recommended reducing the amount that cities added to the supply.
Even worse, it can create toxicity. Symptoms can include joint pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. It can also cause bone loss. Still, in most cases, the excess fluoride comes from eating toothpaste accidentally.
But there may be specific reasons to remove fluoride from your water. Some research suggests it works better as a topical application rather than something you ingest. Most European countries don’t add it to their drinking water and still manage to reduce oral health problems with proper dental care.
There’s also some evidence that links it to thyroid problems and bone fractures. That’s why many people feel it’s unethical to add it to the water without informed consent.
Can You Remove Fluoride from Water?
It’s challenging to get rid of contaminants in your tap completely. But because fluoride dissolves easily in water, it’s especially hard to remove it. However, we did discover some ways to get rid of most of it.
What Doesn’t Work
Carbon filters, the most common type of water purifier for home use, don’t remove fluoride. They work best on chemical contaminants that don’t dissolve in liquid. A softener system is also ineffective because it can only remove positively charged molecules from the tap.
Activated alumina is commonly marketed to treat it, but that doesn’t mean it’s getting the job done. This medium can be very effective if you have a slow flow rate and a pH of 5 to 6. However, it’s tough to create these conditions in your tap.
If your city uses fluoride, you won’t get the desired results from these options.
Bone char carbon, which is made from burning animal remains, is the oldest method to remove fluoride. When used correctly, it has about a 90% effectiveness. However, it’s not the most environmentally friendly option.
Reverse osmosis is equally effective. These systems are also excellent and remove chemical contaminants, arsenic, lead, and almost everything you don’t want to drink. Most don’t require power and can easily install under your sink.
Distillation is another option to purify your drink. It’s also better at keeping bacteria out of the water if your city has a boil alert. However, they require a little more DIY skill to maintain.
Are There Ways to Avoid Fluoride in Water?
If you’re not in the market for a water purifier, you can still remove many sources of this mineral.
The most common way to overexpose yourself is by ingesting toothpaste. Consider looking for brands that don’t include it. You may also want to reduce fluoride treatments at the dentist. Alternatively, you can look for providers that offer other options, such as ozone therapy.
Most bottled water doesn’t have added fluoride. Additionally, you can buy organic fruits and vegetables from farms that don’t use cryolite.
Pro Tip: Want fresh water on the road? We took a closer look to uncover Where Do You Connect an RV Water Filter?
Stay Hydrated With Safe Water
Water quality is a hot topic these days. But here are more pressing things to remove from it than fluoride. Lead, arsenic, and chemical contaminants are much more common than they used to be. So while this controversial mineral may not hurt you, it might not matter much for adults who visit the dentist.
Reverse osmosis units and distillers produce safe, delicious water and peace of mind. They’re also much cheaper and better for the environment than drinking from plastic.
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