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We've all heard over and over that we should be drinking between six and eight glasses of water per day to ensure optimal health. It is also true that most of us could survive without food for over a month, but would perish without water for longer than five days. Today, while we may be more aware of the importance of drinking more water, much confusion abounds regarding purity issues, especially the value of purchasing water and if fluoridation poses a health threat. Where does the water come from that flows from our household taps? This water is generally collected in reservoirs from surface water, which has run off from creeks, streams, rivers etc., or from ground water which has filtered down through soil and rock layers to the water table and is supplied through a well.

Water can harbor a multitude of undesirable compounds depending on its source, purification processes and even the plumbing it runs through. Some of these compounds include arsenic, iron, lead, copper, fluoride and radon. Unfortunately, water is susceptible to contamination by other substances like asbestos, cyanides, fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and industrial chemicals which can easily leach into ground water in various ways. Most of our purification plants add a number of potentially harmful chemicals to our water supply to purify and freshen it. Some of these include chlorine, phosphate, lime and aluminum sulfate. These additives perform a number of functions such as regulating pH, killing microorganisms and getting rid of cloudiness and contributing to aeration. New statistics tell us that much of our water supply contains biological contaminants, such as viruses, bacteria and parasites, some of which escape destruction even when exposed to powerful chemicals like chlorine. The notion of boiling what we have assumed is safe drinking water is becoming more prevalent, especially when it comes to certain very resistant parasite organisms. As far as chlorine is concerned, the potential long-term effects of chlorine ingestion are still being debated with emphasis placed on the fact that some of the by-products of chlorine are considered carcinogenic. At this writing EPA officials are looking to reduce public water chlorine levels. Can we tell if our water supply is poor? Some of the warning signs of undesirable water include visible floating particles, cloudiness or murkiness that does not clear up when water stands for a few minutes, foaming (may signal bacterial contamination), soapiness, strange smell, or an odd taste (metallic or foul). Note: Remember that many potentially dangerous substances like pesticides and herbicides will not present any odor or visible change to drinking water. Some microbiologists advocate boiling all of our tap water supplies just to be safe. Bacteria can be destroyed by boiling water for at least five minutes. While none of us want to take an alarmist position concerning our water supplies, many cities dispense water that cannot really be called completely health promoting.

To Fluoridate or Not to Fluoridate?
Regardless of the hype we may have heard in the past, scientific evidence conclusively proving that fluoridated water results in stronger bones and teeth has been controversial and rather inconclusive. I must admit that the potential risks of fluoridation seem to outweigh its possible benefits. It must be understood that the inorganic forms of fluoride used in drinking water are totally different from the naturally occurring fluoride called calcium fluoride which is considered nontoxic. Fluoride ingestion has been linked to osteoporosis and osteomalacia and in some cases can actually cause damage to tooth enamel. Sodium fluoride and fluorosalicic acid are the two compounds used in public water supplies and are both considered inorganic industrial by-products. These chemicals can be toxic in the right amounts and are added to some insecticides. Over 50 percent of the cities in our country fluoridate their public

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