Should communities fluoridate their water?

 Last year the people of Natick, Massachusetts assembled a panel of experts in chemical risk assessment to help them decide whether to add fluoride to the city water supply. Unlike government or industry reports, the Natick study is deemed significant in that panelists were considered to be both independent and impartial. The study resoundingly concluded that water fluoridation was not a good idea primarily because it does not reduce the incidence of cavities. The Natick panel cited a 1986 study by the National Institute of Dental Research in which the dental decay of 39,000 school children was monitored. A third of the children lived in fluoridated areas, a third were partially fluoridated and a third were unfluoridated. The study showed no difference in dental decay based on fluoridation. Natick panelists also cited recent studies of Western Europe, which is 98% unfluoridated, in which dental decay rates have declined as much as the U.S. Several drawbacks of fluoridation were also cited by the Natick report including: making bones more brittle; potential fluoride poisoning; the leaching of lead from pipes; and links to cancer. See: