systems of Marin’s size. Because of that state law, it’s not clear
if fluoridation would stop even if the moratorium were to pass.
The Centers for Disease Control trumpets fluoridation as “one of 10 great public health achievements of the
20th century,” because it has been shown to decrease
tooth decay. Dental groups, including the American Dental
Association and the California Dental Association, have
fought hard for fluoridation laws.
“I often see a dramatic difference in the oral health of
patients who drink fluoridated water and those who have not
benefited from it,” says dentist Dan Davidson, who lives in
Marin. “Patients’ teeth have stronger enamel and less decay.”
However, even though the U. S. Public Health Service has
recommended it for 65 years, not all medical professionals and
researchers agree that the case in favor of adding fluoride to
the water supply is closed. Recent studies have found correlations between fluoridation and ADHD and hypothyroidism.
Mill Valley dentist Brian Smith is a sponsor of Clean Water
Sonoma-Marin’s anti-fluoridation initiative. “I really believe
what you ingest in your body should be a personal choice,”
says Smith, who discusses the pros and cons of fluoride-based
dental treatments with his patients on a case-by-case basis.
General practitioner Richard Shames advises everyone,
especially those who suffer from hypothyroidism, to not drink
fluoridated water (he recommends using a reverse-osmosis fil-
tration system to remove fluoride from tap water, or purchasing
distilled water). Although he is not an endocrinologist, Shames
Family Services, which the doctor operates with his wife and
daughter in San Rafael, specializes in thyroid care.
Shames and his wife, Karilee Shames, a registered nurse
who also has a Ph.D. in holistic studies, became interested
in hypothyroidism when she was diagnosed with the condition. Shames says he never questioned fluoridation until he
started researching his book Thyroid Power: Ten Steps to
Total Health and came across research linking fluoride to
thyroid problems. He learned that doctors once used fluoride
to slow down an overactive thyroid. “I am a physician who
has changed my stance on fluoride. I thought fluoridation
was a fine thing,” he says.
Potentially in Your Tap Water
(But Probably Not)
Of all the unwanted substances that lurk in tap water, lead is
Nanney doesn’t think Marin residents need to worry much
the one that worries NRDC’S Wu the most. “Lead is a known
poison, and there’s no safe level of it, especially with the
impact it has on children’s brain development,” she says.
Fortunately, none of the service lines in the MM WD sys-
tem are made of lead, unlike the situation faced in some older
cities like Washington, D.C., where Wu lives.
MM WD found no detectable lead in 50 homes it sampled for
the 2015 report. But that doesn’t guarantee that your own water
is lead-free, because any lead in Marin tap water comes from the
home’s own plumbing system, most likely from the solder holding
pipes together in homes built in the first half of the 1980s.
about lead in the water, but if you’re concerned, you can send
a sample to a private lab for testing.
• Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products
Studies by the U. S. Geological Survey and the Associated Press
have found trace amounts of medications in water supplies
throughout the United States. Small amounts of personal
care products are also turning up in drinking water. It’s not
really known how such tiny amounts of chemicals might affect
people when ingested every day.
In 2006 and 2007, MM WD water was tested for many such
compounds, including aspirin, the antibiotic amoxicillin and a
range of hormones. All those tests came up negative.
“There is no hard data to suggest that there are pharmaceuticals or personal care products in MMWD’s source or
finished water,” Nanney says. Some water systems where these
substances were detected were located downstream of industrial, heavily populated or livestock production areas, he adds.
“Those conditions don’t apply to our watershed.” m
Larkin goes through this
cumbersome — and expensive —
process because she believes that
the fluoride in Marin’s water is
hazardous to her family’s health.