Alan Smith says he can't get any clean water to drink because his tap's poisoned -- and that's the same old tap water everyone else in Dallas is drinking. Every drop, of course, is treated with fluoride to reduce cavities -- but each time Smith pours a cup of water, he doesn't see cavity control. He sees poison.
"You can't drink anything and not get fluoride," he said.
While small amounts of fluoride make their way into drinking-water reservoirs before they reach treatment plants, the city of Dallas, like many U.S. cities, adds fluoride to the water supply to promote dental health. Smith has founded People Against Poisoning Our Water and hopes to convince the city to put it to an end.
The city began using the additive in February 1966, approved by an overwhelming majority in a referendum forced by an early anti-fluoridation group, the Dallas County Association for Pure Water. After that loss, Dallas-area fluoride opponents, if they were out there, just had to suck it up.
At least, until a month ago when Smith's founded his new group. "I figured I may as well start it, because there doesn't appear to be anybody doing anything about it," he says.
Smith said his group, which currently meets online, will have its first brick-and-mortar meeting when it grows to ten members. After a month, they have only garnered seven supporters. He admits that's a little disappointing.
"I figured by now we'd have 30 or 40 [members]. I've advertised, and apparently nobody's reading that information, or they're just afraid to do anything about it."
Fluoride is toxic to humans, but only in doses well above those found in toothpastes and tap water. The city's reports show that the tap water over the last decade has contained about a quarter of the maximum allowed amount of fluoride. Smith would rather there be none, and he doesn't feel as though he's given a choice but to consume the fluoride.
Various groups have opposed fluoride since it was first introduced to water systems in the '40s, and campaigns against the chemical have been persistent if not successful. They argue that the public is over-exposed to a number of fluoride compounds that make their way into drinking-water before and during the water treatment process. For Smith, who sees the fluoride as poison, it's difficult to understand why it's not being removed from the water.
"They're saturating the Earth with fluoride. The runoff from fertilizer and waste water constantly poison the rivers and the rivers perpetually poison the oceans, and that doesn't sound like an agenda for anybody who plans to continue inhabiting the planet."