Those who say, "It must be something in the water" might be right. The water has plenty of stuff in it, including fluoride, and once again this week a Valpo resident asked the city to stop fluoridation.
Fluoride in the minuscule doses found in the city water, an amount below the maximum allowed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, helps bolster the enamel in our teeth and helps prevent tooth decay. It has been used that way since before Bucky Beaver was a kit.
(If you don't know who Bucky Beaver is, ask your parents or grandparents.)
The problem is that fluoride in higher doses is a deadly, corrosive substance that can attack the bones, the nervous system and, ironically, the teeth. The amount needed to change a benevolent dose to a harmful or deadly one differs according to each person's own chemical makeup.
People are far more likely to be hit by lightning than suffer any ill effects from fluoride in the water, but people should be concerned over what they put in their bodies. Some people object to having their children vaccinated against the plethora of diseases that used to cause frightfully high child mortality rates, or they refuse to get flu shots, either because of a small number of cases of illness or death, the ultimate deterrent.
Anyone who listens to commercials for alleged miracle drugs promising relief from everything from acne to impotence and the many pains and afflictions of old age can take little comfort in the wonders of modern science when it takes longer to list the potentially lethal effects of the medications than to describe the benefits.
A person suffering for years from the debilitating pain and physical ravages of something like arthritis would deal with the Devil for even a few minutes of relief, but knowing the relief might come at the cost of having a couple of vital organs shut down or other equally devastating impacts makes the choice anything but a no-brainer.
The introduction of fluoride to the nation's water systems has been hailed as one of the top 10 advances in public health in the 20th century. Some people used to think fluoridation was a Commie plot to poison us. The Commies aren't around to poison us any more, but there are those who believe fluoridation should be a personal decision.
Our ancestors survived without fluoridated water, but most of their teeth didn't. The resident who asked Valpo to halt fluoridation said the chemical also affects brain function. Somebody should probably check the fluoride levels in Congress's water.
The opinions are those of the writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (219) 548-4352.