It’s in the water.
You’d think water would be the least of our problems. Look to the east and you’ll see a big lake right there that holds an estimated 3 quadrillion gallons of fresh water. 3 QUADRILLION. Written numerically, that’s 3,000,000,000,000,000, or three more zeros than a trillion.
By all accounts, it’s good water… even to the point, though I’m not recommending it, you can drink it if you’re thirsty enough.
But that’s not what concerns a number of Marquette residents today. They’re more interested in what we’re adding to our municipal water supply… specifically fluoride.
There’s a passionate and well-spoken group of folks genuinely troubled about the fluoride treatment applied to our municipal drinking water. Their position is that fluoride is in fact a drug, with possible harmful side-effects that may or may not be the cause of childhood conditions like autism, ADHD, reduced IQ, or any number of other maladies of which we don’t know the cause.
Our concerned citizens cite research from places like the Fluoride Action Network that embrace a number of reasons why we shouldn’t be putting fluoride in our water. First and foremost is the uncertainty that comes with adding a drug to something we use on a regular basis, and what negative effects it might have.
When you suggest those effects could include childhood diseases, some of which we don’t understand, you get people’s attention. Like… “Is fluoride the cause of my child’s developmental disorder?”
And young people aren’t the only ones who may be subject to the effects of fluoride. It’s also been suggested that there might be a link between fluoridated water and cancer. However, on their website, the American Cancer Society says, “Many population-based studies have looked at the potential link between water fluoride levels and cancer. Most of these have not found a strong link to cancer.”
Regardless of what the research says, it certainly begs the question… do the benefits of fluoride outweigh the possible dangers?
I’ll throw in a necessary caveat here. Whatever information any of us have found through our own research must be evaluated based on the reliability of the source. In other words… who can you trust?
In addition to the reasons regarding health hazards, the anti-fluoride crowd – not just here but nationally as well – also suggests that putting fluoride in our drinking water simply isn’t necessary.
The primary benefit to fluoride, generally acknowledged, is that it helps prevent dental decay. Okay, but does it have to be in our water? Some research suggests that it doesn’t… that fluoride is most effective as a topical treatment. In other words, it doesn’t do our teeth any good when it’s in our belly. (Contrary to that, there’s also research that indicates fluoride ingested does help the development of healthy teeth in infancy.)
Effective topical applications can be found in the dentist’s chair as well as when we brush our teeth with fluoridated toothpaste. So does it really need to be added to our water?
Additionally, an argument against city water fluoridation is that fluoride is a drug, and drugs, as we know, should be administered in prescribed dosages. If the same amount of fluoride is in all our city water, it stands to reason that anyone who drinks a lot of water will be getting a higher dosage of the drug than those who drink less. That seems like a legit observation.
Many of you may be thinking… hey, I’ve been drinking fluoridated water my whole life, and I’m okay. Yeah… and there are people who have smoked two packs a day for fifty years and never got cancer. If there’s any chance that adding fluoride to our drinking water is doing more harm than good, we need to take a closer look at it.
I’ll try to represent the position of the pro-fluoride group here, even though they don’t have any locally organized advocacy group that I know of.
Start with the position taken by the American Dental Association, which is pretty simple and direct. “The ADA recognizes the use of fluoride and community water fluoridation as safe and effective in preventing tooth decay for both children and adults.” So, they think it’s safe.
I shared the American Cancer Society’s position earlier, and then there’s this from the National Institutes of Health, which only references the intake of a lot of fluoride… “Swallowing extremely large amounts of fluoride from dental products or dietary supplements can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, bone pain, and even death in rare cases.” That’s interesting, but doesn’t exactly call for the discontinued use of fluoride in recommended amounts.
Approximately 3 out of 4 Americans use public drinking water treated with fluoride, including those of us in Marquette. If it’s truly a problem, then it’s a darn big one that has somehow escaped our due diligence. Our city leaders are not unaware of the concerns and have relied on a range of opinions and research to get us to where we are… fluoridating our water supply. Unless presented with absolute contradictory evidence, the status quo will likely remain in place.
That’s all I’ve got. If you want to learn more, you can do some additional research on your own. And remember, always consider the source.
Animals (out of) Control
As the weather warms, and hibernating animals come back to life, we see more and more of the non-domesticated types roaming our neighborhoods. While a dog in the yard or a cat on the porch are commonplace practices around town, it’s no longer unusual to see foxes, skunks, and even the occasional bear or coyote invading our space.
Marquette Animal Control Officer John Inch has some recommendations for what to do when confronted with a less than friendly, and likely hungry, wild animal.
“Generally, if you leave them alone and don’t feed them or leave items that attract them, they move on. If you experience nuisance animals you should try to remove food sources, such as trash they rummage through, grubs in your yard and areas where they den. Most are nocturnal so a motion sense light will deter them. Also, items such as fruit peels and other scented items will deter nuisance animals.”
Inch also suggests that the new garbage bins have been effective in reducing animals being attracted to our trash.
More foxes are being seen around town, many of whom appear to be sick or diseased. When you see a fox that appears to be losing fur, that’s typically Sarcoptic Mange. Mange is an infestation of a parasitic mite that lays its eggs and burrows into the outer layer of an animal’s skin. It causes intense itchiness, scabbing and hair loss. Lesions from scratching can lead to secondary infections which can lead to death. Mange is NOT rabies, but in advanced stages it can be mistaken for rabies. Foxes can contract rabies but it’s very uncommon.
Mange is treatable with prescription meds. The obvious problem with treating mange is getting that fox to check into a medical clinic for treatment. So they need to be caught, evaluated, treated, and released. Unfortunately, that’s a tall task, even for wildlife savvy folks.
According to Kyann Clarke of the local Wilson Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, the diseased foxes are almost impossible to treat and should you see one that is suffering, a call to the DNR is probably the most humane thing you can do.
Also, if you’re worried that mange can be picked up by your cat or dog, it’s unlikely unless your pet has direct contact with an infected animal. And you can take steps to prevent that by following the city’s guidelines of keeping your pets in your yard, or on a leash if you go for a walk.
Final words of wisdom from the experts… as much as you might want to, don’t feed wild animals, and always give them their space. Done, and done.