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Monochloramines in Tap Water

I recently had a clogged drain requiring the services of a plumber. While discussing the details of the job, he took out brochures and a “fact sheet” prepared by his company explaining that my city tap water was going to kill me. Fortunately, they could provide a solution – a home-wide water filtration system.

The plumber seemed naively sincere, and genuinely fearful of the cancer-causing contaminants found in drinking water. He invited me to read through the material he provided while he unclogged by drain. I did better than that. I took the time to do a quick search for some more objective information on the topic.

Monochloramines

The focus of this particular scaremongering is the additive monochloramine, which is added to city water. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

Chloramines are disinfectants used to treat drinking water. Chloramines are most commonly formed when ammonia is added to chlorine to treat drinking water. The typical purpose of chloramines is to provide longer-lasting water treatment as the water moves through pipes to consumers. This type of disinfection is known as secondary disinfection. Chloramines have been used by water utilities for almost 90 years, and their use is closely regulated. More than one in five Americans uses drinking water treated with chloramines. Water that contains chloramines and meets EPA regulatory standards is safe to use for drinking, cooking, bathing and other household uses.

Chlorine is still used as a primary disinfectant for drinking water, but most systems switched to or added chloramines as secondary disinfectants because they do not dissipate quickly, and therefore are more effective. Also they produce fewer potentially-harmful byproducts than chlorine, and are therefore useful in meeting the new regulations about the levels of these byproducts.

Ozone, UV light, and chlorine dioxide are also used as primary disinfectants, usually at the water processing plant, not in the distribution system. Disinfectants are necessary to prevent waterborne diseases, like cholera and Legionnaires.

Disinfection byproducts (DBPs)

Of course, everything we do has potential risks and benefit. There is evidence to suggest that some DBPs have potential health risks, such as increasing the risk of cancer, anemia, low birth weight (but not other reproductive outcomes) and neurological symptoms.

As always, however, the dose makes the toxin. With questions of toxicity there are multiple lines of evidence, and we tend to see the same picture emerge over and over.

Toxicology studies look at the effects of the substance of concern on cell cultures. These often demonstrate toxic effects, and DBPs are no exception. Such studies, however, only show the toxic potential of substances, not what actually happens with human exposure. Direct exposure is likely to cause greater toxicity than what occurs in a living animal.

When considering actual toxicity, exposure, bioavailability, and detoxification need to be taken into consideration. While a substance may be toxic in a petri dish, it is not clear if will get to the target cells in a living animal in high enough doses to cause the same toxicity.

The next step is therefore animal studies. The purpose of such studies is not to see if a substance is toxic – everything it toxic in high enough dose – but rather to see the dose-response of toxicity. This information will then be extrapolated to humans (which is admittedly tricky) to develop safety limits on dose.

Human toxicity studies are rare because of ethical considerations. Therefore most human data is epidemiological – looking at exposure and outcomes out in the world (not in a controlled setting). This type of data can be tricky to interpret because of uncontrolled variables, but can provide reassurance that exposures are not associated with adverse outcomes.

The EPA uses all of this data to set safety limits on known DBPs, with a wide margin of safety in order to account for uncertainties in the data. Generally, levels of DBPs in drinking water are very low, and have been lowered over the years because of the use of chloramines and other techniques.

There are many DBPs, however, and it is possible that we have yet to discover all the possible DBPs that are forming in drinking water. Also, DBPs generally form as a reaction with organic contaminants in the water, and therefore the amount and type of such contaminants will alter the amount and type of DBPs that form.

Further, some DBP levels are regulated, while others are not. However, even unregulated DBPs are often still measured, and you can find this information about your local drinking water.

Another concern is that disinfectants can leach lead and copper out of pipes, increasing their levels in drinking water. These, however, are also measured and carefully regulated.

Conclusion

The brochure handed to me by my plumber contained all accurate information, much of it obviously copy-and-pasted from the EPA website. However, it was all cherry-picked with the obvious intent of scaring the average homeowner into thinking they will get cancer unless they buy an expensive filtration system.

The brochure mentioned that DBPs exist, they are potentially carcinogenic, there are some that are unregulated, and we may not have even discovered all the ones that exist. It further mentioned the leaching of lead and copper into the drinking water.

The brochure did not mention that monochloramines have been used for 90 years, that even unregulated DBPs are measured, that epidemiological evidence has not revealed any harm from DBPs, that monochloramines actually decrease their presence, and that the EPA carefully regulates and monitors their levels to keep them well below safety limits, with a wide margin to account for our current uncertainty in the scientific data.

I was also not given information on my local drinking water, information that is readily available online, and which shows that lead, copper, and DBP levels (regulated and unregulated) are well-below established safety limits.

There is also no information indicating that spending thousands of dollars on a home-wide water filtration system has any health or other benefits.

In short, I was given half the story – the scary half, with the clear intent on scaremongering into an expensive purchase. This was further justified using the precautionary principle – “shouldn’t we be safe, just in case?” Admittedly, where one draws the line with the precautionary principle is a bit subjective. Everyone can decide for themselves how much risk they are willing to take, and how much they are willing to spend to decrease potential risk.

Such decisions, however, should be made with full information, and in a proper context. It’s also useful to consider cost-effectiveness. How much money are you willing to spend to achieve what measure of risk reduction? Perhaps that money could be better spent somewhere else, and perhaps there is greater risk in the lost opportunity (for those of us without unlimited funds) from making a major purchase for dubious benefits.

Posted in: Public Health, Science and Medicine

Leave a Comment (87) ↓

87 thoughts on “Monochloramines in Tap Water

  1. Will plumbers seek to be licensed as primary care providers ?

    1. Windriven says:

      “Will plumbers seek to be licensed as primary care providers ?”

      Are they any less prepared for the task than homeopaths or chiroquacksters?

      There was a news item on one of the Seattle radio channels this morning reporting that a local naturopath had agreed to turn in his license after “prescribing” a hundred or more prescriptions for medical marijuana apparently requiring no more examination than determining the patient’s ability to say, “dude.” I would draw a hard line here except that we have a couple of local MDs here who seem happy to prescribe testosterone and HGH with not much more diligence.

    2. WBailey says:

      You mean surgeons?

    3. Carl says:

      Oddly enough, I think that question has been asked on this website in the past. My conclusion was that the plumber is a better choice than a chiropractor or acupuncturist because the plumber is more likely to tell you to go to a real doctor, while the other two will try to “help”.

  2. The Locke says:

    As a plumber myself I can tell you that what he was trying to do was sell you a useless product. Unless your locality puts out a warning about the drinking water you really have nothing to worry about.

    1. Windriven says:

      I’ll bet that he sells some too.

      1. MTDoc says:

        At the local home show last spring, there was a steady crowd around two different booths touting various water treatments, both expensive and either worthless (ionization) or unnecessary (super filtration or something or other). Meanwhile the culligan man, a lady in this case, had plenty of free time to chat with me. The purveyors of these devices, at least the ones I know, buy into the hype hook line and sinker. Nothing sells like an enthusiastic salesperson who is totally sincere, if entirely misinformed.

    2. stanmrak says:

      Being a plumber doesn’t make you informed about chemicals in the water. If you were a biochemist, maybe. You’re only regurgitating disinformation put out by government agencies who are habitual liars. If they admitted the water was harmful, there’d be millions of lawsuits coming their way, so why on earth would they?????

      1. WBailey says:

        I know this is pointless but,
        they do. constantly. ever heard of a boil water advisory? I’ll guarantee you that I’m more anti-government than you but there is a difference between free thinking and letting your brain fall out.

        1. WBailey says:

          Also I would not be surprised at all if half the conspiracy theories out there were invented in some pro-status quo rumor mill to drown out and discredit anyone with a legitimate grievance.

          You might find it more convincing and productive to bring up known actual real incidents of pollution affecting human health, like love canal. Then we might discuss process that brought these to common knowledge, and what we might do to protect ourselves from such catastrophes.

          To practice what I preach:
          I am glad my forefathers and mothers fought for and won protections from pollution, embodied today by various acts of legislature and regulatory bodies. However, I do not believe these protections are perfect, universal, or even in the interest of the powers that be (big business, government, take your pick), and are probably always at threat of being circumvented or rolled back if we allow them to be. I think a concerted effort by citizen scientists, keeping an eye on published epidemiological data and performing their own experiments would be a valuable tool for detecting any failures or lapses in regulation of pollution affecting human health. Combining this with organized activist bodies could provide a good, redundant, hopefully non-conflicted source of information to the public on these issues.

        2. Windriven says:

          Stan is incapable of coherent thought. You waste your time and energy responding to his silliness.

          I’d be willing to bet that he wears a tinfoil hat because he’s convinced that lithium will pollute his precious bodily fluids.

        3. Chris says:

          Check out Stan’s website:
          http://www.antioxidants-for-health-and-longevity.com/about-me.html

          To get a taste of it, from the front page you can read and download the following articles:

          Featured Articles

          25 Reasons Why
          You Need More Antioxidants

          Earthing — Nature’s
          Most Powerful Antioxidant

          Confused About Nutrition?

          “Natural” vs “Organic”

          Guide to Best Eggs

          Best Cooking Oils for Health

          What Causes Heart Disease?

          Do Cancer Screenings
          Reduce Cancer Deaths?

          Are Genetically Modified
          Foods Safe?

          Alzheimers Disease
          Prevention

          Free Downloads!

          Non-GMO
          Shopping Guide

          Natural vs Organic Cereals

          Avoiding Pesticides

          Organic Egg Scorecard

          Bottled Water Report

          Guide to Hidden MSG

          50 Reasons to Oppose
          Water Fluoridation

          1. “Guide to Hidden MSG”

            Mine’s in a shaker in the cupboard.

          2. Derek says:

            And notice the “quack Miranda warning” at the bottom of the page.

          3. stanmrak says:

            Thank you. Every link to my site helps me get more traffic from google.

          4. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            Good point. People should use the href template, ending with rel = “nofollow”, or link through a website such as donotlink.com/. Deprive Stan of precious linkjuice.

      2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Being a plumber doesn’t make you informed about chemicals in the water. If you were a biochemist, maybe.

        What, you mean like the nice people at the EPA who set the targets, and the nicer people at municipal water treatment plants who test the actual water?

        You’re only regurgitating disinformation put out by government agencies who are habitual liars.

        As opposed to disinformation put out by CAM advocates obsessed with unmeasurable toxins and a completely false understanding of human health and disease? I’m talking about you Stan. There’s certainly no evidence of you having any expertise, and a lot of evidence of you being simply wrong.

      3. Geekoid says:

        Doesn’t mean he isn’t informed either. All that information is publicly available.

        “You’re only regurgitating disinformation put out by government agencies who are habitual liars.”
        Are we? I’m certainly not. But thanks for showing us you argument is simply an Ad Hom attack.

        ” If they admitted the water was harmful, there’d be millions of lawsuits coming their way, so why on earth would they?”
        First off, if it was harmful people would be dying and sick. Something that is tracked by the agencies, hospital, 3rd party groups, and anyone who want the info.

        B) Hiding the information would result in lawsuits. Water Alerts are issued when an event occurs.

        You are ignorant and you are using logical fallacy. You are wrong and you need to learn to admit that to yourself. I understand that can be hard, but you will be a better person when you learn to accept that.

        1. stanmrak says:

          People are sick, haven’t you noticed? You think that degenerative diseases are just normal effects of aging?

          How would you know the information you’re being given is truthful? Especially from the government. The EPA told cleanup crews at the World Trade Center it was safe to go back in and the air was safe to breathe. Now, 10 years later, people are sick and dying, and there are lawsuits aplenty.

          1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            You think that degenerative diseases are just normal effects of aging?

            Um…yeah. Particularly in a population that doesn’t follow the science-based recommendations to eat mostly unprocessed food, lots of fruits and vegetables, don’t smoke, get regular exercise and try to get enough sleep.

            Everything dies eventually. People, bacteria, sheep, banana trees, thermophiles, viruses, everything. And the process leading up to death, if not immediately traumatic, is that of degeneration.

            What do the well-studied chemicals found in drinking water, assessed by toxicologists, have to do with the inhaled effects of a massive building collapse and fire? Doubtless the EPA would have a better sense of the risks of building collapse and fire now that they have an N = 1 sample, but fortunately the science of monochloramines is based on larger samples, for longer periods of time so they aren’t guessing. Did the Challenger explosion mean that we can’t build faster computers? What are you trying to say with your example beyond “DOUBT”? Would you prefer drinking water with live bacteria in it?

          2. windriven says:

            “How would you know the information you’re being given is truthful?”

            Do you understand the difference between untruthful and incorrect?

      4. Katoto Hanan says:

        I think its definitely prudent to get a good filtration device. I was just like some of you naive folks out there that think the folks in charge are taking care of our water…..we drink it, and we’re ok…..well that was until my son’s teeth are all discoloured now because of fluorisis.

        It all comes down to common sense….there isn’t any doubt that there is countless chemicals in our water. Have you ever dumped anything down the drain? Well it may be news to you but it doesn’t miraculously disappear when it goes through the water treatment. These trace levels of various chemicals interact with chlorine and every other chemical and we drink it in. Worse yet, some of us drink a ton, so we are ingesting more chemicals with the very thing that is supposed to help detoxify us. That’s why its not easy to trace and to say ..its the water….its mild, and it happens over time…it affects some gradually, and other faster…..do you not see disease on the rise? It can only be because of one of one thing…..what goes into our bodies, whether it be air, water, or food…

        I did myself a favour and researched the best possible filter I could find, and it took me months as I wanted to find a company who cared about making a great product and that I could independently verify with the independent lab that did their work which I was only able to do with one company so I went with it….anyhow, enough of my infomercial….just don’t shrug it off that you don’t need one….I’ve seen the effects of our ‘clean’ tap water….so good luck.
        Do yourself a favour and check it out, read the reviews, and call the company….the prices are quite reasonable for what you are getting….
        http://www.pureeffectfilters.com/#a_aid=Ultrawater

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          I think its definitely prudent to get a good filtration device.

          Yes, but that’s because you are selling them, isn’t it? You show no evidence of having read Dr. Novella’s post, and no understanding of toxicology either, and thus there is no real reason to listen to you.

          well that was until my son’s teeth are all discoloured now because of fluorisis.

          Fluorosis is a minor surface discoloration, purely aesthetic, that actually signals unusually hard teeth. Your son is now less likely to develop cavities. What are you concerned about? And where do you live that they aren’t taking fluoride out of the water at those levels? Normally municipal water authorities remove fluoride if it is at levels to cause fluorosis…it’s almost as if you’re just making this up to sell water filters!

          It all comes down to common sense….there isn’t any doubt that there is countless chemicals in our water. Have you ever dumped anything down the drain? Well it may be news to you but it doesn’t miraculously disappear when it goes through the water treatment. These trace levels of various chemicals interact with chlorine and every other chemical and we drink it in.

          These chemicals are monitored to ensure they do not reach dangerous levels. Don’t you think you are fearmongering, just a little bit, perhaps to sell water filters? Weren’t your arguments mostly addressed over at open parachute anyway?

          Worse yet, some of us drink a ton, so we are ingesting more chemicals with the very thing that is supposed to help detoxify us.

          You don’t need to “detoxify”, that is a scam. If you believe in detoxification, I’m not surprised you’re also chemophobic.

          It can only be because of one of one thing…..what goes into our bodies, whether it be air, water, or food…

          Really? You think that this is the only thing that could be causing increased disease? I mean, the population is now made up of significantly older people, as well as a considerable increase in the number of obese and morbidly obese.

          1. Katoto Hanan says:

            “Fluorosis is a minor surface discoloration, purely aesthetic, that actually signals unusually hard teeth. Your son is now less likely to develop cavities. What are you concerned about?”

            Wow you are really one insensitive person….I’d rather my son have a cavity rather than having discoloured teeth the rest of his life. I can afford fixing a cavity more so than I can give him cosmetic dentistry…..

            Anyhow, to each their own…good luck.

          2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            As someone with a lot of dental problems brought about by using “natural” (i.e. unfluoridated) tootpaste, I would much, much rather have discoulored teeth than have to deal with the semi-annual pain of freezing, drilling and filling, not to mention the weeks of pain leading up to the dental work.

            Now, which was it you were worried about? The cosmetic effects of fluoride, or the crazy, irrelevant effects of the other trace contaminants that the filters are alleged to filter out?

        2. Sawyer says:

          This appears to be another cookie-cutter advert for a company selling water filters. Can we stop approving these comments? Or are they being let through just so we can learn NOT to buy products from this company?

          1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            Naw, based on the open parachute discussion, Katoto is a real person. A credulous person with no knowledge of biology or chemistry, but still a real person.

    3. Tallise says:

      Yeah, my family got one when moving to a new home in Houston only because the water tastes like it was pumped right out of a swamp and shampoo doesn’t lather easily in it. They tried selling it on some BS story about how toxins and heavy metals blah blah blah. If we lived north in Austin where the water tastes awesome right out of the tap there would have been no reason to want one.

  3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Am I unique in initially reading that as “midichlorians”?

    @DevoutCatalyst

    Oh snap.

    This strikes me as the same issue that antivaxxers have with the CDC. Despite the EPA and CDC (and whatever other TLA you might DRP) recommendation panels being made up of experts, genuine experts in the narrow field of expertise, and people who get vaccinated and drink the water, somehow they are discounted. The belief seems to be that the agency is incompetent, or stupid, too incompetent and stupid to be trusted with your health. But somehow the person willing to sell you an expensive, or even cheap solution, unproven of course, is as trustworthy as a priest nun.

    1. stanmrak says:

      The EPA may not stupid or incompetent – but they are certainly corrupt and overly influenced by lobbyists for the companies polluting the water supply. Their primary objective is to protect these people – not the public, regardless of what you’ve been told.

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Stan, the mere fact that you can think something, the mere fact that you can create, in your own head, a line between something you disagree with and a massive conspiracy, doesn’t mean it exists. Real facts, not your deluded imaginings, matter. The people who are responsible for the local water supply do also drink that water – at home, in restaurants, in swimming pools, at fountains, and in many cases, from bottled water that’s just pulled from a local faucet.

      2. Ken Hamer says:

        You know that the tin foil in your hat contains aluminum, right? Aluminum, that can cause your hair and eyes to fall out.

      3. Your showing a painful lack of understanding of basic government. Carry on…

  4. stanmrak says:

    Anyone who drinks unfiltered tap water does so at their own risk. You certainly can’t trust a government agency when they tell you it’s safe to drink. If you are well-informed, you know what’s in the water are things you don’t want in your body. Anyone who tells you different is just naive.

    1. Chris says:

      So how many to you sell each year? Or are you just trying to push a friend’s business?

  5. stanmrak says:

    The list of common contaminants in drinking water is quite long – about 6 pages!
    http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/index.cfm#List

    Although some of these have been safety-tested on their own, they have not been tested in combination with each other. What happens when you start mixing dozens of different toxic chemicals together and exposing users to them daily over time? No one knows because you couldn’t possibly prove a cause-and-effect. Cancer, heart disease, hypothyroidism? There is definite correlation.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Oh, but Stan, I thought we couldn’t trust the government? So…we can trust the government as long as it agrees with your preconcieved notions?

      What happens when you start mixing dozens of different toxic chemicals together at doses well below the recognized safe limit which incorporates a review of the toxic dose over long periods of time as well as a considerable safety threshold and exposing users to them daily over time?

      FTFY.

      What happens? Probably nothing.

      No one knows because you couldn’t possibly prove a cause-and-effect. Cancer, heart disease, hypothyroidism? There is definite correlation.

      Is there a correlation? Surely you can substantiate that…I had thought cancer was caused by disruption of genes, heart disease by (among other things) obesity and lack of exercise, and hypothydroidism was a real diagnosis abused by naturopaths and quacks to sell expensive supplements.

      The thing is, if cost is no object, you could reduce the levels of these compounds to near-zero. How do you feel about tripling your taxes to address a hypothetical risk? That’s where the precautionary principle goes astray – everyone agrees we should reduce the risk, but few want to pay for it. I wouldn’t want to, seems like a complete waste of money to reduce levels to below what are recognized as safe.

      1. WBailey says:

        It would be a really bad idea for everyone to drink 100% pure deionized water too, what with it leaching out all your minerals and electrolytes and possibly killing you. oh well

      2. stanmrak says:

        from wikipedia:

        Disinfection by chlorination can be problematic, in some circumstances. Chlorine can react with naturally occurring organic compounds found in the water supply to produce compounds known as disinfection byproducts (DBPs). The most common DBPs are trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs). Trihalomethanes are the main disinfectant by-products created from chlorination with two different types, bromoform and dibromochloromethane, which are mainly responsible for health hazards. Their effects depend strictly on the duration of their exposure to the chemicals and the amount ingested into the body. In high doses, bromoform mainly slows down regular brain activity, which is manifested by symptoms such as sleepiness or sedation. Chronic exposure of both bromoform and dibromochloromethane can cause liver and kidney cancer, as well as heart disease, unconsciousness or death in high doses.

        This doesn’t cover the plethora of other chemical reactions that are taking place in your tap water. Municipal water companies don’t filter out more than they legally have to, which leaves a lot of compounds untouched. Drink at your own risk.

        There are many sources to site on the correlations between chlorinated water and heart disease. just google it. Here’s just one:

        http://www.amazon.com/Coronaries-Cholesterol-Chlorine-Joseph-Price/dp/9962636892#reader_9962636892

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Note your sources – wikipedia (as an editor there, I wouldn’t trust it for anything but the most basic and uncontroversial information you could get elsewhere) and what appears to be a 80-page book from a self publishing company for someone claiming the health benefits of tobacco.

          The mere fact that “toxins” exist does not mean the amounts consumed by people are toxic. Water is toxic, in excess and deficit, as is oxygen, vitamin C, vitamin D, sugar, alcohol, spinach and pretty much anything you can think of.

          Your sources are terrible. Like, embarassingly bad.

          Municipal water companies don’t filter out more than they legally have to, which leaves a lot of compounds untouched. Drink at your own risk.

          Well, it’s good that the legal requirements are set by an independent federal agency that uses science to determine what those legal restraints are!

          I happily drink tap water on a daily basis.

        2. Geekoid says:

          Anyone can link to junk book.

          In the US the vast majority of municipal water is tested, regularly, as in weekly.

          ” Municipal water companies don’t filter out more than they legally have to, which ”
          that’s false, and it show an ignorance of how water is treated.

          I spend year in the industry, oh wait, I guess that means i’m part of Big Water Bureau.

      3. stanmrak says:

        To get clean water from your tap means tripling your taxes? HaHa… You must have been drinking fluoridated water all these years. Fluoride is known to dull mental faculties.

        Have you priced cancer treatment, by the way? It’s not exactly cheap.

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          So how much would it cost to reduce all the compounds to a level you consider acceptable? And my municipality removes fluoride from the water because the baseline levels are excessive. Plus, rather obviously, I’m clearly smarter than you are.

          Have you ever heard of a health care system? I have one. It’s great. I don’t have to worry about the cost of cancer care. Plus, because I follow the mainstream recommendations for diet, exercise, sleep, smoking and have a safe food supply, I’m doing everything reasonable to reduce my risk of cancer. Your mad cacklings of “you’ll pay, you’ll ALL PAY!!!” bears no relation to reality. I may develop cancer, mostly because I will live well into my 80s and possibly beyond.

  6. Rich says:

    I bought a house with a reverse osmosis system in the kitchen sink. My plumber told me that was huge overkill, and that our municipal water was actually quite good. He swapped it out for an insta-hot for less than the cost of replacing the filter on the reverse osmosis system. I’ve reclaimed half the space under my sink and now I make a lot more tea :)

    1. stanmrak says:

      What? The plumber never actually tested your water – he just declared it “quite good” and you took his word for it? Even if it was pure when it left the water plant (unlikely), it had to travel through miles of water mains and household plumbing before it ever got to you.
      Plumbers don’t know anything about the chemicals in your water or whether they’re safe or not. They’re not scientists – they just repeat what they’ve been told – by organizations like the EPA who can’t be trusted.

      1. Calli Arcale says:

        Ah yes. The EPA who can’t be trusted except when you’re using their work to show how scary “chemicals” are.

      2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        The plumber was doubtless familiar with the local water supply, with levels of solutes determined by federally-funded mandate and monitored by professionals. And it’s not like those miles of mains and household plumbing are made out of poison and uranium, the components chose are picked for a reason, much as you might pretend the contrary.

        Plumbers would certainly have an appreciation of the effects of numerous components in the water system, they have to in order to understand what kind of piping to use.

        1. devo-T says:

          “And it’s not like those miles of mains and household plumbing are made out of poison and uranium….”

          That part made me laugh out loud (actual, not internet).

  7. WBailey says:

    Just buy a filtering pitcher, they make it taste better anyway.
    Also put enough chlorine in your pool, see trouble free pool’s pool school, they seem to have a pretty good grasp of the chemistry involved. It is my understanding that too little chlorine will not only increase risk of infection but also leave intermediary by-products unreacted, increasing whatever risk they pose in addition to causing the characteristic public pool chlorine smell.

    1. Alia says:

      Several years ago, when I lived with my sister, there came a filter salesman to our apartment. He took out impressive looking equipment, took a sample of our tap water, added some clear liquid and voila – the water turned all muddy and nasty-looking. He started explaining that these are all dangerous toxins and we really do need to buy an expensive reverse osmosis filter. He was unlucky, though, I loved chemistry in high school and did a lot of experiments then, and I could very well recognize iron hydroxide. I know that our water does contain some iron salts (all well within safety levels), that this is nothing unexpected or dangerous, so I just told him, very politely, to leave and never come back.

      Now I live somewhere else and I use a filtering pitcher. The thing is, our water has a rather unpleasant smell. Something to to with old pipes in our area, the authorities claim. It’s safe to drink, but tastes better after filtering. I do not filter the water that I use for other purposes, though.

  8. mousethatroared says:

    We considered getting a water filtration system in our old house that was supplied with well water. The water tended to have more particulate then city water and when my husband had the water tested, the results came back with all sorts of ominous sounding -stuff. Mind, I don’t know if this stuff was actually ominous, because it was a free testing service, connected with a water filtration company.

    Regardless, we ended up just buying the large refillable jugs of water in the grocery store, that you could keep in the fridge, because we knew we were moving in less than a year.

    If I had a particularily old house, I might get the water tested for lead…I know they do general testing for lead in city water, but I don’t think every house is checked (?)

    If I know my pipes are standard and I have city water, I’d definitely go with an instant hot water tap over filtration any day….all the microwaving water for tea is probably giving me a brain tumor (:))

    Having nothing to do with health, we have a soda stream which is the perfect complement to tap water.

  9. mousethatroared says:

    As an aside, the other day I was at Salvation Army and on the radio they were featuring a woman who was supposed to be some sort of health expert. She was advising people to buy water with a particular ph level. She said other ph levels could cause something dastardly to happen to your system (your body, not your plumbing). She even went to far as to say that the caller should buy the correct PH water online (and have it shipped…conveniently sold by the radio station) if they can’t find the correct water in the grocery store.

    I wasn’t even dismayed by the silliness of the “science” behind the idea. I was too appalled at the huge waste of natural resources.

    1. Windriven says:

      mouse, water has a pH of 7.0. Pure water anyway. Acids or bases added to water will pull that pH down or up respectively. The fact that water might have a pH of, say, 6.3 is not as important as what was added that caused that change.

      Buying her special water wouldn’t have much impact on your health but it would have a dramatic affect on her bank balance :-)

  10. DugganSC says:

    Some years back, one of the water-filtration groups, Brita I want to say, ran commercials with an obviously pregnant woman drinking from their pitcher with stern admonitions that if a woman is pregnant, she really shouldn’t be drinking tap water. I don’t think they ever out and out stated any sort of background or statistic, so I suppose they skated by on not making a medical statement. Still, it’s made we wonder for years whether maybe there’s some truth to it. I know that pipes typically carry trace bits of lead (our sink came with a dire warning to not drink water from the hot water tap, but rather to pour a glass of cold water and heat it up) but is it actually an issue or is this like the furfurall over trace arsenic in rice?

  11. Angora Rabbit says:

    Oh, goodie. Stan opens his mouth and once again I have to wade in and correct the huge pile of…steaming misinformation.

    And I am speaking as a scientist who has actually studied organochlorines and their toxicity. We did find health problems, published those data in the top-ranked peer review literature, and I can assure the reader that, here in the front lines, there ain’t no conspiracy and my colleagues in the field are outstanding investigators with top integrity. Conspiracies are the last refuge trotted out when the data don’t agree with one’s hobby horse. Doubtless Stan will say I’m part of the conspiracy. Wish I was. I could use the money.

    For the rational reader out there: as Steve says, the levels in many municipalities are available publicly and you should look at them. I do when they are released. The levels resulting from water-treatment are, in my Professional Opinion, not worth discussing. I am more worried about the potential for radon in my basement and monitoring the presence of manganese and iron in my tap water (both are rich where I live).

    If you are drinking well water, then different story and you should test your water. For example, in the past, certain wells in Tucson and Santa Clara had high chloronated hydrocarbon levels. However, due to low bioavailability, the big exposure wasn’t in the drinking water but via inhalation via, yes, showering. So the filter on your sink won’t help that one. Camp Lejune has a huge problem with this, which is how I became involved.

    Another major exposure route has nothing to do with water. It’s when homes are built on contaminated soil. For example, there are blocks in Milwaukee that are like this, due to past industries. The chloronated hydrocarbons can leach from the soil into the air, ala radon, and contaminates the air, especially in a poorly vented basement. There are several published cases on this. Rare, but good to know what your home is built on.

    Bottom line: there are circumstances where I would definitely worry about chloronated amines and hydrocarbons, but these circumstances are few and fortunately far between. I’m with TheLocke on this one.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Substitute for like button.

    2. mousthatroared says:

      Chloronated hydrocarbon inhaled from shower water? You know, dangers are just to damn complicated. No wonder people freak out over scary sounds ads these days. You hear something and think, “oh no that’s ridiculous, clearly a scam”, but then it turns out the thing that sounds even more ridiculous is actually a concern.

      1. Angora Rabbit says:

        Mouse, and that’s exactly why I don’t worry about the levels in my water because I do keep tabs and know that they’re well below the levels that EPA as well as my own research shows is safe. My shower anecdote is to point out that, as you say, reality is far more complex, and that people who study this are extremely knowledgeable. They think about aspects that would never occur to lay folk.

        I think this may be why some of us are so annoyed by the alt-meddies, because they act like we’ve never thought of this stuff and, just because it’s a huge revelation to them, that therefore it must be a conspiracy to hide it or some such. Stanmrak, in fact. Along with the legions trolling and posting on the internet.

        These folks are to me, as perpetual motion machine people are to engineers and physicists.

        1. mousethatroared says:

          @angorarabbit – Well I don’t have much tolerance for the conspiracy theorists (like stamrack). My anxieties are more based on the idea that the actual scientists may know something is a concern, but that those concerns may not get adequately communicated to the public or acted upon by our anti-regulation congress. The examples I’m thinking of are over use of antibiotics in livestock. Dioxin contaminants in rivers in my state, possibly the impact of fracking upon water quality (?).

          I view it as our job, as a citizen, to support scientists in their efforts to address true safety concerns. It’s good to be annoyed with the uninformed alarmist, because they make the job of sussing out the facts on what is actually a concern and what’s not, that much harder.

          1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            The thing is, if something is a genuine, demonstrated, significant health risk – there tends to be regulations. A lot of the things people are concerned over these days are potential risks that generally brush up against the borders of concern. Diseases are risky, so we vaccinate. Vaccines might be risky – so we try to make them safer.

            If scientists know something is a concern, it usually translates into improved care or cautions, particularly now in the current risk-averse climate. CAMsters like stan are exploiting the hysterical press’ over-reaction to potential threats that have, at best, equivocal evidence (often no evidence, or evidence against) to sell you stuff.

          2. mousethatroared says:

            @WLU – So going without health insurance isn’t a genuine significant health risk? Or over use of antibiotics in livestock isn’t a genuine significant health risk? Or vitamin, herbs and supplements that are basically untested and unregulated aren’t a genuine significant health risk?

          3. mousethatroared says:

            Also WLU – Well my last comment was a snippier than I’d like. Was leaving in a rush and hit post without a final reading. My intent is the same, I do think in the U.S. that some regulation and government policies are not adequate for the level of health and safety that I’d prefer, due to the anti-regulation anti-government tendencies of our right wing politicians. But, please imagine I said it a bit nicer. ;)

          4. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            In the lunacy of the American “health care” “system”, a lot of those issues are filed under the rubric of “personal responsibility” (not having health care is a primary one). I would certainly be in favour of the US having a real health care system, or restricting the use of antibiotics to only sick animals (and I believe they’re used in part because of their hypertrophic effects on the animals, not merely as antibacterials), or vitamins, herbs and supplements being regulated. But they are all diffuse, hypothetical and vaguely random concerns, IMO not comparable to a whole bunch of people sickening and dying from polluted or bacteria-infested water.

            Heavy emphasis on the IMO.

  12. DavidRLogan says:

    Hi Dr. Novella and everyone,

    I’m somewhat skeptical of some of the claims in the article, at least initially. For instance, the dose response for toxins is nonlinear, right? So, a tiny change in X might bring a huge change in Y. For that reason, without knowing more details about the dose response, the bare claim there is a “wide margin of safety” to deal with uncertainty is not particularly compelling, because the response might increase gigantically within a very tiny domain of *acceptable* risk.

    But more generally, there seems to be two sorts of debunkings on this blog. One is debunking a claim of benefit (such as accupuncture, Burzynski, etc.) and the other debunking a claim of risk. The latter strikes me as much more difficult. I am not particularly compelled by the claim of “used for 90 years”, it sounds too much like the “used for a long time, therefore effective” claim when endorsing a benefit for accu. In the those cases, 1000 years with no benefits is pretty persuasive, but in this case 90 years with absence of evidence (not to be confused with evidence of absence) strikes me as less persuasive. For instance, it may be very difficult to draw out a specific pathology (or contribution to pathology) that might develop over many many years due (possibly) to this one chemical.

    What does everyone else think? And btw nothing I say should be taken as endorsing the use of this product…I’m only worried about where the goalposts should be for precaution…and btw (again!) yes I realize we are weighing this against the very real risk of bad water. I am only curious about these questions I’ve raised.

    Have a good night, everyone. Thank you, Dr. Novella, for the provacative article.

    -David

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      I think you’re talking about the precautionary principle. The precautionary principle is a tricky discussion for a variety of reasons – in many cases it is about proving a negative, it often links tenuous hypothetical risks to rare problems, and it often involves two competing risks. For instance, in this case we are talking about the hypothetical risk of the long-term effects of a substance that is harmful in high doses, taken at low doses. The competing risk is that of not treating our water, which has huge proven risks – but we could use alternatives. Would those alternatives be any better? Would they, with their lack of track record, be a firmer place at which to start? GMO is a similar debate – the risks are hypothetical, that there might be some unique risk to the protein grown in a plant versus that very same protein applied topically or found infectively.

      I will make one point – if a tiny change in X generates a huge change in Y, why wouldn’t we see that in survey and other population-level data? If there are distinct patterns of cancers based on the presence of small concentration differentials of monocholramines, why doesn’t this show up in reviews of cancer incidence and prevalence, and why wouldn’t it show up in previous safety testing? If the risks are as vivid as your questions suggest, shouldn’t we know about them? If they’re not, if there is a genuine increased risk of cancer but it is so low that we can’t detect it despite nearly a century of use and more than 300 million people to compare, doesn’t that suggest it’s not really worth worrying about?

      The precautionary principle has been invoked in the past in response to potential health threats. I would venture that the precautionary principle is one of the misfires of human cognition in a lot of ways peculiar to the political crunch granola left, an intolerance for risk that we have the privilege of indulging in because we are protected by the mechanisms we now question. Vaccines is one example (specifically the removal of thiomersal), GMO another, water treatment a third.

      1. davidrlogan says:

        Thanks, WLU. Always appreciate your thoughtfulness…

    2. Angora Rabbit says:

      (pulling on my toxicology hat – nice one, with a big feather) David, you’re absolutely right. It can happen that a toxicant could show a non-linear responses. A good example is the association of ethanol with heart disease. Abstainers have a higher risk than moderate drinkers because they don’t benefit from the nitric oxide benefits (where’s Daedalus?), whereas high drinkers negate that benefit. Or, very low exposures might be too low to induce a detox mechanism such as a P450 enzyme or a ghlutathione transferase.

      But these are known toxicology principles, meaning that we do think about this and look for it in assessments.

      Because of this, we build into assessments buffers that account for that threshold, and then a margin of safety above that. Usually the margin of safety is any where from a 100-fold to a 1000-fold beyond the dose where an adverse outcome is observed. It’s built into pharmaceuticals as well, along with micronutrient intakes. There are even formulas to calculate these. The relevant phrases are “LOEL” – lowest observable effect level and “NOEL” – no observable effect level. Assessment studies determine these, and then build in multi-fold buffers to account for differences in metabolism, age, sex, disease state, and a range of variables we don’t know about yet (Rumsfeld’s unknown unknowables).

      Does this help answer your question?

      Cheers!

      1. davidrlogan says:

        Yes, it was very helpful, thank you :) Your posts are my secret weapon in private discussions….

  13. Frederick says:

    I was Pro Fluoride in water, But now that i read Stanmark comment i’m now convince that, as he said ‘Fluoride is known to dull mental faculties.’ He his a proof of that, it also must cause heavy paranoid disorder.
    LOL bazinga you guys sure have patience to argue with a troll like that….

    1. stanmrak says:

      I filter out my fluoride; you’re the ones drinking it, not me.

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Yet somehow we manage to think and write out coherent points that rather soundly refute your comments. It’s almost as if you are completely wasting your time and money, but increasing your risk of cavities, all based on vague fearmongering of pollution, toxins and other real but misused terms.

        All of your care, your expenses, your cautious negotiation of ritual purity, it might be a complete waste of time. It likely is. A lot of very smart people manage to not only drink fluoridated water, but get PhDs, MDs and DDS that allow them to parse some very difficult scientific literature and synthesize it to the conclusion that fluoride is not harmful at the doses prescribed.

        One could even argue that fluoride is correlated with higher powers of reasoning, because the people who filter out and restrict fluoride tend to be more credulous and unable to see the flaws and fallacies in things like alternative medicine. It may have a systematic impact on the specific part of the brain that processes trust or causality, since fluoride opponents seem to base their entire theory, including the lack of harms found with recommended doses, solely on elaborate conspiracy theories rather than the possibility that fluoride might not be harmful.

        So drink some tap water, it might help you realize just how much time, money and mental energy you have wasted on expensive micronutrients you could have gotten from a delicious piece of fresh fruit.

      2. Frederick says:

        And you are the ones that is delusional and closed minded to facts ( reals ones not the one you think you know, illusion of knowledge, it is a cognitive Bias). Filter as much as you wanted. it does not make you right.

  14. Mark A Crislip says:

    And here I thought monochloramines were microscopic beings that enable the Jedi and Sith to use the Force and you would WANT them in your water.

    1. Chris says:

      You and WLU! I admit that the Star Wars bit also occurred to me.

      And yeah, the tap water here in the Pacific Northwest is such that some guys decided to bottle it!

      1. davidrlogan says:

        Who would have guessed that you, Chris, and also WLU and Dr. Crislip were nerdy Star Wars fans :)

  15. Kiiri says:

    As someone who works in local public health with many friends over in environmental services which includes a working group with local water treatment facilities, I can echo the sentiments that your tap water is quite safe. Water treatment facilities are required to test and retest their water on a daily basis to make sure there is enough disinfectant and not too much. And yes Stan, many of these tests are pulled from points in the distribution system quite distant from the plant to make sure the levels are adequate. In addition to testing for chemicals they also test water on intake and exit for pathogens. The filter pitchers primarily filter using activated charcoal which will improve the taste/odor of water. Depending on your water source there are organic contaminants (removed in the treatment plant) which do impart a musty taste/odor to the water. The water is safe, just tastes a little funny. Some municipalities (not all) also run the water through a charcoal filter to improve the odor/taste. We do here because we have a problem each summer with algae blooms that cause the odor. But that is not required as it is a cosmetic change to the water. Tap water is very safe in the US and spending exorbitant amounts on filters, pitchers, treatment systems, etc. is a waste of money in many cases. If you have a private well you should have it tested (there are many companies who will test for a fee) but the number of people on private wells is quite low. Also, primarily in that case I would be more concerned about pollution of the ground water with fecal material which could increase your risk of illness. And yes Stan, water should be fluoridated. That public health intervention is credited with saving millions of teeth. Look it up.

    1. stanmrak says:

      “And yes Stan, water should be fluoridated. That public health intervention is credited with saving millions of teeth. Look it up.”

      I have; there’s no scientific evidence for this. Statistics for fluoridated and non-fluoridated communities show no difference in cavity rate. Fluoride used in studies also is not the same as the surplus toxic waste industrial fluoride that we buy from China to put in our water. And then there’s the problem of dosage. A small child who drinks water all day gets a dose many times the amount for their body weight as a full-grown teenager who drinks none. If you want fluoride in your water, you could always add your own.

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Nope, you’re wrong. You’re a scaremongering lunatic. The levels at which fluoride protects against cavities are much, much, much lower than any rate proven to cause harm, and would cause fluorisis of the teeth well before it caused any significant problems. And you seem to miss the fact that if a small child drank as much water as a full-grown adult, they would have significant other problems, such as hyponatremia or hypokalemia. The concentration doesn’t change with the size of the child.

        If you want fluoride in your water, you could always add your own.

        Considering the incredibly tiny concentrations found in regulated water, it is outside the abilities of anybody but a university-level chemist, working with picogram-sensitive scales, to dose a single household’s water. Idiot.

  16. WScott says:

    I used to filter my tap water when I lived in New Mexico, because the water was so heavily chlorinated it affected the taste. Never pretended it was a health issue, just a matter of taste. And even without filtration, I’d still rather have over-chlorinated water than unchlorinated water.

    1. Frederick says:

      I understand, My wife lived in Montreal back 2005-2006 ( we normally lived in Trois-Rivieres) for her master degree in biology. I bought her a Brita filtered jug. The water of Montreal tasted a lot more Chlorine than at Home. But the trick is to let you jug in the fridge, Chlorine evaporate quite fast, and you always Have cold water.

  17. WINK says:

    It is really sickening how self centered and greedy Americans are (and maybe other countries, but I just know the US because thats where I live). I know it is not a surprise, but seeing all the fear tactics and messages out there specifically with GMO, vaccines, and now our water supply. Has anyone seen how people are living RIGHT NOW in the world that don’t have access to these things? Not 20 years or 50 years from now, but as we speak. Has anyone seen children dying, actually dying from vitamin A and iron defecencies? Why wouldn’t we want to modify their food to give them a chance with life? Or people dying from thirst or not having access to clean water!?! Or people dying from preventable conditions if only they could have received a vaccine? I think we need to open our eyes a little, we have become so comfortable that we are nitpicking things that could save lives. To me it is fairly obvious what can happen if we don’t act on the science and knowledge we have.

    1. Frederick says:

      In my City the begin putting chloramines in water, since my Wife now work in public health department, i have information available, she work on water quality issues often. They are also pushing for the city to put fluoride in water, Dental health of low revenue parts of the populations ( Kid more than others of course) are really bad around here. (Trois-rivieres is kind of a unemployment record braking city in Quebec). Of course some nut job a scared. All of those are not poor people. funny how those fears turn them into ego-centrist. One of my wife colleague believe that crap ( he has no scientific formation. he said that fluoride is a drug… ). I’m a ecologist at heart. because logic of science demonstrate or impact. Unfortunately. In my side of the Fence a Lot of people prefer believe BS instead of proven facts. Like all the crappy lies about GMO. they forgot that all the plant we eat are GMO for centuries, now, that they all have been selected. Cross-bred to give you the nice tomato our the Cows we now have. I eat Bio-food. because our local farmer produce it, and for the taste… but the reality is hat all Biological food and in fact bio-GMO. Or fear of magnetic field based a one misunderstanding, no not that, but total ignorance of Physic.

      Some are even AGAINST chlorine in water… our water come form a river full of fishes and animal poop ( oh yeah human poop too). yeah.. that’s a good idea!

    2. windriven says:

      “It is really sickening how self centered and greedy Americans are…”

      ???

      Do you have similarly sweeping views about Jews, blacks, Hispanics, Asians and others?

      There are plenty of Americans who are self-centered, plenty who are greedy, too. There are also plenty who are generous, broad-minded, charitable and empathetic.

  18. Carolyn says:

    Anyone who pays a water bill in St. Louis gets a yearly Consumer Confidence Report. If anyone is interested, you can see the latest one here: http://tinyurl.com/l26dafy

    Lots of info and some spiffy cover photos of two of the three water towers still standing.

  19. Katoto Hanan says:

    “As someone with a lot of dental problems brought about by using “natural” (i.e. unfluoridated) tootpaste, I would much, much rather have discoulored teeth than have to deal with the semi-annual pain of freezing, drilling and filling, not to mention the weeks of pain leading up to the dental work.”

    Hmmm…. it seems to me that your dental problems were not brought about by using unfluoridated tooth paste, but rather poor dental hygiene. Maybe you should try that as it is extremely effective against cavities. My father, mother, and two older brothers grew up in a country without fluoridated tooth paste and their teeth turned out just fine.

    Sorry to hear about your trauma of going to the big bad dentist, but it doesn’t mean that every person will end up like you without fluoride in the water…..afterall, maybe you haven’t heard that the benefits of fluoride come from TOPICAL application.

    Hence, if the benefits are derived from TOPICAL application, then my child has no business ingesting it. If he has no business ingesting it, and it has the risk of affecting him in an adverse way, then there is merits in removing it from the water with the other contaminants via filtration.

    “Now, which was it you were worried about? The cosmetic effects of fluoride, or the crazy, irrelevant effects of the other trace contaminants that the filters are alleged to filter out?”

    Both the effects of ingesting fluoride over many years, and also trace contaminants….as they all are likely to have a cumulative effect on the body and each other over many years. Anyhow, we are getting a bit off topic so please continue to enjoy your daily chemical cocktails.

    Sources regarding TOPICAL merits of fluoride:

    “[L]aboratory and epidemiologic research suggests that fluoride prevents dental caries predominately after eruption of the tooth into the mouth, and its actions primarily are topical for both adults and children.” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (1999). Achievements in Public Health, 1900-1999: Fluoridation of Drinking Water to Prevent Dental Caries. MMWR, 48(41): 933-940.

    “[F]luoride’s predominant effect is posteruptive and topical.” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2001). Recommendations for Using Fluoride to Prevent and Control Dental Caries in the United States. Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Review. August 17, 50(RR14):1-42.

    “[E]vidence has continued to accumulate to support the hypothesis that the anti-caries mechanism of fluoride is mainly a topical one.” – J Carlos, JP. (1983) Comments on Fluoride. The Journal of Pedodontics. Winter. 135-136.

    “Fluoride…works via topical mechanisms.” – Featherstone, JDB. (2000). The Science and Practice of Caries Prevention. Journal of the American Dental Association. 131: 887-899.

    “Fluoride incorporated during tooth development is insufficient to play a significant role in caries protection.” – Featherstone, JDB. (2000). The Science and Practice of Caries Prevention. Journal of the American Dental Association. 131: 887-899.

    “[R]esearchers are discovering that the topical effects of fluoride are likely to mask any benefits that ingesting fluoride might have… This has obvious implications for the use of systemic fluorides to prevent dental caries.” – Limeback, H. (1999). A re-examination of the pre-eruptive and post-eruptive mechanism of the anti-caries effects of fluoride: is there any caries benefit from swallowing fluoride? Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology. 27:62-71.

    “Although it was initially thought that the main mode of action of fluoride was through its incorporation into enamel, thereby reducing the solubility of the enamel, this pre-eruptive effect is likely to be minor.” – Locker, D. (1999). Benefits and Risks of Water Fluoridation. An Update of the 1996 Federal-Provincial Sub-committee Report. Prepared for Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.

    “[F]luoride’s pre-eruptive effects in caries prevention are weak.” – Burt, BA. (1994). The Case for Eliminating the Use of Dietary Fluoride Supplements Among Young Children. Abstract of paper presented at Dietary Supplement Conference, American Dental Association, Chicago, Illinois, January 31 – February 1.

  20. Katoto Hanan says:

    “As someone with a lot of dental problems brought about by using “natural” (i.e. unfluoridated) tootpaste, I would much, much rather have discoulored teeth than have to deal with the semi-annual pain of freezing, drilling and filling, not to mention the weeks of pain leading up to the dental work.”

    Hmmm…. it seems to me that your dental problems were not brought about by using unfluoridated tooth paste, but rather poor dental hygiene. Maybe you should try that as it is extremely effective against cavities. My father, mother, and two older brothers grew up in a country without fluoridated tooth paste and their teeth turned out just fine.

    Sorry to hear about your trauma of going to the big bad dentist, but it doesn’t mean that every person will end up like you without fluoride in the water…..afterall, maybe you haven’t heard that the benefits of fluoride come from TOPICAL application.

    Hence, if the benefits are derived from TOPICAL application, then my child has no business ingesting it. If he has no business ingesting it, and it has the risk of affecting him in an adverse way , then there is merits in removing it from the water with the other contaminants via filtration.

    “Now, which was it you were worried about? The cosmetic effects of fluoride, or the crazy, irrelevant effects of the other trace contaminants that the filters are alleged to filter out?”

    Both the effects of ingesting fluoride over many years, and also trace contaminants….as they all are likely to have a cumulative effect on the body and each other over many years. If in a few short years it has affected the enamel of his tooth, what about other areas over time that cannot be seen? Anyhow, we are getting a bit off topic so please continue to enjoy your daily chemical cocktails.

    Sources regarding TOPICAL merits of fluoride:

    “[L]aboratory and epidemiologic research suggests that fluoride prevents dental caries predominately after eruption of the tooth into the mouth, and its actions primarily are topical for both adults and children.” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (1999). Achievements in Public Health, 1900-1999: Fluoridation of Drinking Water to Prevent Dental Caries. MMWR, 48(41): 933-940.

    “[F]luoride’s predominant effect is posteruptive and topical.” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2001). Recommendations for Using Fluoride to Prevent and Control Dental Caries in the United States. Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Review. August 17, 50(RR14):1-42.

    “[E]vidence has continued to accumulate to support the hypothesis that the anti-caries mechanism of fluoride is mainly a topical one.” – J Carlos, JP. (1983) Comments on Fluoride. The Journal of Pedodontics. Winter. 135-136.

    “Fluoride…works via topical mechanisms.” – Featherstone, JDB. (2000). The Science and Practice of Caries Prevention. Journal of the American Dental Association. 131: 887-899.

    “Fluoride incorporated during tooth development is insufficient to play a significant role in caries protection.” – Featherstone, JDB. (2000). The Science and Practice of Caries Prevention. Journal of the American Dental Association. 131: 887-899.

    “[R]esearchers are discovering that the topical effects of fluoride are likely to mask any benefits that ingesting fluoride might have… This has obvious implications for the use of systemic fluorides to prevent dental caries.” – Limeback, H. (1999). A re-examination of the pre-eruptive and post-eruptive mechanism of the anti-caries effects of fluoride: is there any caries benefit from swallowing fluoride? Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology. 27:62-71.

    “Although it was initially thought that the main mode of action of fluoride was through its incorporation into enamel, thereby reducing the solubility of the enamel, this pre-eruptive effect is likely to be minor.” – Locker, D. (1999). Benefits and Risks of Water Fluoridation. An Update of the 1996 Federal-Provincial Sub-committee Report. Prepared for Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.

    “[F]luoride’s pre-eruptive effects in caries prevention are weak.” – Burt, BA. (1994). The Case for Eliminating the Use of Dietary Fluoride Supplements Among Young Children. Abstract of paper presented at Dietary Supplement Conference, American Dental Association, Chicago, Illinois, January 31 – February 1.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Sorry to hear about your trauma of going to the big bad dentist, but it doesn’t mean that every person will end up like you without fluoride in the water…..afterall, maybe you haven’t heard that the benefits of fluoride come from TOPICAL application.

      So, in your mind, topical applications never leach into the mouth, into the gums, into the bloodstream or anywhere but the teeth? Curious.

      Hence, if the benefits are derived from TOPICAL application, then my child has no business ingesting it. If he has no business ingesting it, and it has the risk of affecting him in an adverse way , then there is merits in removing it from the water with the other contaminants via filtration.

      Well, in addition to not being dishonest (your child is swallowing fluoride from topical applications), fluoridated water is much more democratic and allows an entire population to benefit from this low-risk, high-benefit intervention, including those without insurance for whom visits to the dentist is a luxury.

      Both the effects of ingesting fluoride over many years, and also trace contaminants….as they all are likely to have a cumulative effect on the body and each other over many years. If in a few short years it has affected the enamel of his tooth, what about other areas over time that cannot be seen?

      Yeah, highlighted the relevant part – you have no evidence to support your fearmongering, the part of your brain responsible for contamination concerns is misfiring. They know what high-dose fluoride looks like. At doses well, well beyond that causing fluorosis it does have toxic effects. At doses below fluorosis, it has no recognized toxicity.

      Anyhow, we are getting a bit off topic so please continue to enjoy your daily chemical cocktails.

      Enjoy wasting your money on your filter never proven to reduce harm to humans, chronically or acutely. Enjoy your chemophobia.

      As to your list of sources – I have no doubt that fluoride works topically. Do you know what would expose teeth to fluoride topically? Fluoridated water. Also, you should look up “cherry picking” and “systematic review”. Oh, and the current date – why on earth would you cite a review from 1984, except that you couldn’t find anything more recent. Do you know what the Cochrane collaboration is? Because they draw on recent evidence in large volumes to conclude fluoride is safe and effective. And it’s not just them. Or perhaps you’d like something from 2013? They’re thinking of adding it to salt and milk.

      Incidentally, where did you get your sources from? Was it from the company selling the water filter? It was, wasn’t it. Why do you trust the information coming from a company that makes money if you believe them, rather than, say, dentists – who are genuine experts and actually stand to lose money if cities fluoridate the water?

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