It seems like the ideal time to write a post on water. Firstly, I live on the Sunshine Coast, where residents have just witnessed the devastation that water can bring after experiencing a frightening flash flood. Secondly, I have just learnt that yesterday was World Water Day, an international day to highlight the lack of access to safe, clean drinking water. Thirdly, tomorrow Queenslanders will be electing their next Premier. So what’s that got to do with toxic water? Read on to find out!
Most people have heard about the importance of drinking two litres of water a day. We certainly need to as chronic dehydration results in a myriad of mental and physical health issues. However, what if the water you drink is unfit for human consumption and making you sick? As foreign as this may sound in Australia, it is a real dilemma that I faced last year as it became apparent that the water I was consuming was making me sick. For nearly two weeks, my household experienced allergic reactions every time we showered and developed rashes, lethargy and headaches.
Unfortunately, despite the numerous attempts to communicate through emails and phone calls with our local water authority, it took them over 10 days to respond. By that time, our symptoms had subsided. Public safety was obviously not high on their list of priorities. I assume they were too busy celebrating their 68 million dollar profit windfall to be bothered investigating.
In the meantime, I turned to Google to find out why water was making us sick. Google, of course, has an answer for everything.
What I learnt was fascinating and alarming. I suspected that the health symptoms we experienced were probably caused by added chemicals in the water supply. For example, fluoride, a toxic substance banned in many countries around the world, may have been the likely culprit. Too much chorine may also have caused our distress. A household member visited their doctor, a specialist in nutritional and environmental medicine, who advised that her symptoms were consistent with fluoride poisoning and recommended we buy a good quality water filter for the house or change to rain water.
Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh, decided in 2007 to introduce fluoride into the water to reduce the incidence of dental cavities. This year will see approximately 90% of the State drinking fluoridated water. I recall the controversy this initiative created due to concerns about the health impacts of fluoride. I have also heard from those who have lived with fluoridated water for many years who say there is nothing wrong with it. My dilemma has been, who should I believe?
If it boils down to who should I trust, the answer is clear. Seriously, trust a politician? Trust the government to protect citizens and keep us safe? I don’t know why I have such difficulty contemplating that a politician or government may make a decision that is not in the public’s best interests. I feel like I’ve got some inbuilt, automatic, default position where I place trust in those in authority positions and need lots of evidence to convince me that they are not acting in an ethical or authentic manner. We place our faith in people in positions of power and authority. We assume they will act in our best interests. However, governments are riddled with examples of how the self-interests of politicians exceed their responsibilities to their subjects. Hitler, is a prime example of that. Anyone living in the state of Queensland just needs to pick up the newspaper and read about the latest problems in Queensland Health to know that health care is not a significant priority for the current government.
There have been some compelling arguments from those who don’t want fluoride in the water. I came across a documentary, called Fire Water, on the fluoridation of water in Australia. Some scary points made by this film include:
- Fluoride has numerous, serious health impacts on the body.
- Some people are more sensitive to the effects of fluoride than others.
- There is no evidence that fluoride improves dental cavities. Prior to the mainstream fluoridation of Queensland, the incidence of dental cavities between NSW and Victoria (both fluoridated states) and QLD was about the same. So, why put it in the water if there is no evidence that it works?
- It’s not pharmaceutical grade fluoride that has been put into the water. It’s industrial toxic waste. Sounds just lovely! I can’t think of anything better than a glass of water flavoured with toxic waste.
- Fluoridation of the water is mass medication. A basic human right is to be able to choose what medication we are on. The Queensland Government has not respected the rights of its citizens to choose what is good for our health. Although, if it’s not pharmaceutical grade fluoride, that would make it mass poisoning.
- Fluoride is cumulative in the body.
In an attempt to find out more about fluoride in the water, I researched a number of websites on the topic, including the Queensland Government site detailing information on fluoride. This information reminded me of the propaganda that the Nazi party were famed for, so I decided to seek out who I thought would be an independent, unbiased source of information. So I had a look at the World Health Organisation (WHO) site. A report published by WHO expresses concern about the medium to long term effects of fluoride on human health, particularly in relation to the development of dental and skeletal fluorosis, which are bone diseases caused by the excessive consumption of fluoride.
Whatever your beliefs are about fluoride, filtering water is a sound idea. Safe water is not a 100% guarantee. Governments are known to overdose the water system with chemicals. I also lived in Sydney at the time when there was a massive Giardia (a nasty, illness causing parasite) outbreak in the water system. You are what you absorb. So it’s important that you drink and absorb water that is safe for consumption.
If you would like to find out more about fluoride, just click on the suggested links below:
World Health Organization. (2006). Fluoride in Drinking Water. Accessed on 23 March 2012, Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/fluoride_drinking_water_full.pdf