Water treatment has come a long way since we washed our clothes, bodies and livestock in the same bodies of water we used to dispose of our bedpans. In fact, diseases like polio, hepatitis A, and other horrific ailments have been all but eradicated since we’ve learned proper water treatment en masse. Although now we’re facing a whole new set of health problems as new issues are being raised about the side effects of current chemical additives.
Is Portland Water Safe?
Portland’s wastewater collection and treatment system works around the clock to monitor the millions of gallons of dirty water that the city and area residents produce.. This process begins with coagulation and flocculation, where chemicals with a positive charge are added, which then neutralizes the negative charge of dirt and other particles, binding them into a larger substance called floc. When the floc settles, it’s called sedimentation, and it can be separated and filtered. After the water is filtered it’s disinfected with chlorine or a similar compound that destroys any bacteria, viruses or parasites. When water or bodies of water contain more harmful inorganic chemicals, or dangerous byproducts, third party companies like Sevenson Environmental Services may have to be called to treat the water more aggressively.
The Fluoridation Factor
To help stem some of the highest rates of tooth-decay in the nation, in September 2012, the Portland City Council voted unanimously to add fluoride to the municipal water supply beginning in early 2014. Through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention touts the benefits of fluoridation, municipal water fluoridation remains a controversial subject.
The Environmental Protection Agency claims: “Exposure to excessive consumption of fluoride over a lifetime may lead to increased likelihood of bone fractures in adults, and may result in effects on bone leading to pain and tenderness. Children aged 8 years and younger exposed to excessive amounts of fluoride have an increased chance of developing pits in the tooth enamel, along with a range of cosmetic effects to teeth.” The EPA classifies Fluoride as a heavy metal like mercury and lead.
This year Harvard researchers published a study that shows fluoride may lower the IQ of children over the course of time. The study revealed that children living in communities with higher fluoride in their water had a notably lower IQ. They have concluded that there’s substantial evidence of developmental neurotoxicity involved. This is the 24th study that shows negative association with fluoride and healthy function.
Action From Portlandians?
Despite the monumental advances in water treatment today, we still haven’t found the perfect solution. A coalition of attorneys, doctors, dentists and activists have long pushed for the removal of fluoride from our drinking water.
“It’s senseless to keep subjecting our children to this ongoing fluoridation experiment to satisfy the political agenda of special-interest groups,” attorney Paul Beeber said. “Even if fluoridation reduced cavities, is tooth health more important than brain health? It’s time to put politics aside and stop artificial fluoridation everywhere,” laments Beeber. Even with mounting evidence against it, fluoridation is becoming a reality for Portlandians. Granted, there are devices that can remove it, but should it even be there in the first place?