Since the ancient time, water has been part of the necessities of all the living organisms occupying the Earth. This has then become a symbol that expresses purity and devotion. Because of its antiquity, there are some cultures, such as Greeks, who have created gods that command and control the waters – their place of gatherings were located around the wells.
Yet, regardless of how people in various cultures would take into account the importance of water, deep down, we know that we can’t live without it. From the environment we are living in, to the very medium of our own body, we can always find water.
With 70% of the planet’s surface covered with water and 75% of the human body consisting of it, we could then say that water is one of the primary elements responsible for the life here on Earth. Water moves through the land as it does through the human body; it transports, dissolves, replenishes the nutrients and other organic matter, and carries away the waste material.
For an average adult, his or her body contains an amount of 11 gallons of water - with just a loss of not less than 3/4 gallon, that person could suffer headaches, weakness, dizziness, nervousness, fatigue, irritability, dehydration, and even a certain level of pathology.
On the other hand, we can’t just keep on drinking random water to replenish our loss. We still have to consider the cleanliness and safeness of the water before being able to drink it. If a person happened to consume contaminated water, he or she might experience gastrointestinal problems, diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramping, dehydration, and even death, depending on how much he or she have drunk.
Thus, to ensure the safeness of the drinking water, governments, especially the United States, have regulated laws where the sanitation of the water flowing through the pipes must be checked accordingly to the set standards and criteria. Moreover, companies that produce clean drinking bottled water also became a trend and increased through time so that people would have easier access to it.
Tap Water VS Bottled Water
Tap water and bottled water are two of the most common source of clean drinking water today. Although a lot of countries - such as Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, Colombia, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, and Denmark – have implemented the use of tap water as a source of the citizen’s drinking water, there are still a number of places where people don’t have a reliable, clean tap water. And according to the study, there are 783 millions of people who choose to buy bottled water because these are more dependable than the water coming out of their faucets.
Tap water is the water coming out of our taps, that’s distributed by the local water provider through the indoor plumbing. This is commonly used by developed countries and is usually safe to drink; yet, it is not rare to experience water quality problems.
Because of the improper plumbing and lack of maintenance, waters coming out of the taps could be contaminated. This then could cause serious medical problems, especially to those people who might have consumed it. Thankfully, local governments have implemented laws and criteria for the protection of both the water and the citizens and have regularized check-ups and maintenance.
Bottled water, on the other hand, is the drinking water packaged through bottles – could be glass or plastic bottles. There are some bottled waters sold as carbonated and categorized as distilled, mineral, or spring. This has become a trend because it is easier to access and could sometimes be convenient, especially for those who like to travel.
Of course, although they may seem perfect, this bottled water does have its downside. Since these products are being imported to different parts of the world, they could also be unsafe due to improper packaging, storage’s temperature, and expiration period. Moreover, since the majority of the companies have been selling these products in plastic bottles – since they are cheaper and more flexible than glass bottles – the amount of garbage produced for each year have been increasing. This causes pollutions, specifically water, and land pollutions because plastics and glasses tend to have slow rates of decomposition, thus causing invasion of space to other living organisms.
Fluoride in Waters
Fluoride is a chemical that was usually added by local water providers to the municipal water supply to reduce the number of people having tooth decay. Commonly found in food, water, and soil, this said the chemical is one of the most abundant elements in the planet and is one of the main media for making mouthwashes, toothpaste, and other more various products.
Since tooth decay is very common to children, local governments have decided to add fluoride in the water because studies have shown that the increase of fluoride level up to certain amounts – 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams - could prevent dental problem cases – the said material protects the teeth by remineralization and demineralization. This then saves the budget for the local community’s health allowance and benefits those who need them.
Furthermore, fluoride wasn’t just added on tap waters but also bottled waters. The Food and Drug Administration's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition just recently announced that companies who manufacture bottled water can now add a certain amount of fluoride in their mixture and print it on their labels - since a lot of studies have positively shown the benefits of fluoride.
The famous company Colgate have agreed and supported this claim because they promote better oral health and intend to make the people understand the importance of it.
However, having too much fluoride could also cause some hazards to people. Experts have found out that consuming fluoride for a long time then links to some certain health issues. They have proved that the said chemical affects the durability of the person’s bones, specifically his or her teeth.
Such examples of possible health cases are dental fluorosis, skeletal fluorosis, thyroid problems, and neurological problems.
Dental fluorosis was caused by too much exposure to fluoride. Cases like this were seen on people who have been consuming fluoride since their childhood when their teeth were just developing. A symptom of this is having tiny white specks or streaks located in the enamel of the tooth.
Although this doesn’t affect the health of the teeth, it would just cause some discoloration to it. Due to this, doctors have recommended not to let their children intake too much water that has fluoride, do not let them use mouthwash, and supervise them when they are brushing their teeth.
For infants, it is advised to let their mothers breastfeed them because this doesn’t just make the babies strong but also protects them from fluorosis.
Another case caused by being exposed too much to fluoride is skeletal fluorosis. Similarly to what happens to the teeth, fluoride could cause breakage and damage to the bones and joints. Through time, the bones could harden and become less elastic, causing an increase in the probability of having fractures. Moreover, if the bone tissue accumulates and the bones thicken, the person may not be able to move easily caused by impaired joint.
For some cases, people tend to experience having thyroid problems caused by excess fluoride; specifically, this could cause damage to the person’s parathyroid gland. If not immediately treated, this could then result in hyperparathyroidism – uncontrolled secretion of the parathyroid hormones – and depletion of the calcium in the bone structures causing higher concentrations of it in the blood.
Furthermore, having a low amount of calcium concentrations in the person’s bones could him or her more vulnerable to fractures.
Some studies are proving that people who have consumed fluoride before their birth could be in a great risk of having poorer cognitive outcomes.
Experts have long-term studied women who were pregnant together with the amount of fluoride they consume. After 6 to 12 years, it was found out that the children of this said women tend to have lower scores on IQ tests. This then made the experts theorized that fluoride could indeed be hazardous to the children’s development.
Also, fluoride could contribute to many health problems as according to the studies of the International Association of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) – an organization that imposes not to use or add fluoride in the water or any other products.
Such examples of their findings to people are skin problems, cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure, cardiac insufficiency, myocardial damage, heart failure, reproductive issues, thyroid dysfunction, osteoarthritis, temporomandibular joint disorder, bone cancer, and ADHD.
Recommended Solutions to Fluoride
Due to the complaints and negative results of the consumption of the fluoride, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed to revise the standards for the quality of both bottled water and tap water.
They have announced that local water supplier and bottled water manufacturers should only limit their fluoride levels up to 0.7 milligrams per liter. Basing on the findings in the experiment conducted by the experts from FDA, they have found that tooth decay would be prevented and at the same time risk from having dental fluorosis is lower if the concentration of fluoride on the water only ranges from these levels.
Now, new standards and criteria are being recommended, and confusions regarding the inconsistent fluoride levels in the bottled waters have been corrected as according to the updates announced by the United States Public Health Service (PHS).
Albeit many manufacturers are now implementing this said regulation, many still argue regarding the allowable levels because even in this low numerical value, risk of having a health problem is still probable. Some scientist has contradicted the FDA and stated that although the proposed concentration of fluoride in the water is low, in long term period this toxicity from the said chemical would still accumulate in a person’s body causing the same certain health problems.
They have been imposing to decrease the amount of fluoride – lower than the recommended 0.7 milligrams per liter – being concentrated in the water because the risk of a certain person to experience fluoride poisoning is still high.
Fluoride poisoning isn’t just caused by unexpected consumption of a huge amount of fluoride but also caused even by an acute amount of it. Symptoms of this said case are seizures and muscle spasms, nausea and vomiting, excessive saliva, and abdominal pain. And if this poisoning won’t be treated immediately, this would then developed into some major health problems and would even cause death.
These “anti” experts have said that each person has different levels of fluoride tolerance and that the levels being blended in the water should consider those persons who have a lower tolerance than the average level.
If these said persons consumed water having 0.7 milligrams per liter amount of fluoride, they would be more likely to have oral health issues and other more medical problems still. Although it is true that the number of casualties having dental problems lowered, there is still a small percentage left to take care of.
Thus to fill that percentage, these “anti” persons proposed to the FDA to lower the amount of fluoride.
Although there are no updates regarding this debate, this major decision still depends on the people; on how clean their water must be. Citizens are now advised to check every label of their bottled waters and make sure to ask for the reports regarding the updates in their tap waters.
If, for some instances, a person in the family happened to experience some of the said symptoms – may it be acute or not - it is recommended to go check on a physician or a doctor so that major complications would be avoided.
Also, do not hesitate to ask advice from the experts, especially if you are having doubts regarding your health and your water supply. Looking for the perfect water for your family would be better, especially when each one of you has health cases to consider.
Since water is a part of our lives and is a necessity, it is better to make sure that it is safe and clean before consuming it.