Commonly added by municipal water systems in an attempt to help prevent tooth decay, fluoride is considered by many people to be a dangerous toxin. With an effective fluoride water filter from US Water Systems, however, you can remove a significant amount of this chemical from your home’s water. A standard granular activated carbon (GAC) filter isn’t very effective for this water problem, so you need to make sure that you select a filter that’s made specifically to remove fluoride. Call the Certified Water Specialists at US Water Systems at 1-800-608-8792 for help figuring out which system is right for you.
Because fluoride can’t be removed very effectively from water using a standard GAC water filter, it can be more of a challenge to deal with than many other chemicals that are added to tap water. Most regular point-of-use water filters, like those found in pitchers and that attach to a faucet, can’t remove this mineral. The most effective fluoride water filter systems either use bone char, reverse osmosis, or a combination of the two.
Fluoride is strongly attracted to the compounds found in bones, which is what makes bone char filters so effective. Bone char is made using animal bones – usually cow bones that have been carefully selected – that are cleaned, aged, and heated to a high temperature in a low oxygen environment. The resulting charcoal is made up primarily of hydroxylapatite, with smaller concentrations of calcium carbonate and activated carbon. It’s the hydroxylapatite, a compound that’s the main mineral in dental enamel and makes up about 70% of human bones, that’s so attractive to fluoride. In fact, that’s why fluoride is added to toothpastes and the water to begin with: when the teeth are exposed to small amounts of fluoride, the mineral is incorporated into the enamel, helping to strengthen it.
With a bone char water filter that removes fluoride, the water flows into a tank and through the bone media. As the fluoride is exposed to hydroxylapatite, the fluoride ions are exchanged for hydroxide ions, removing them from the water. This treatment method can often remove 90% of fluoride from the water being treated.
Studies indicate that reverse osmosis (RO), which uses a membrane with very small pores to trap contaminants, can remove fluoride from the water supply. There is some concern about this method, however, and its effectiveness seems to depend in part on how quickly the water flows through the membrane. Reverse osmosis systems also generate a significant amount of waste water, so this type of fluoride water filter is typically only recommended for drinking water systems.
The most effective water filter fluoride removal system may be one that combines a bone char filter with reverse osmosis. Most RO systems, in fact, include one or more carbon filters before the membrane to remove chemicals like chlorine, and one of those filters can be made with bone char. Combining filters also helps extend the life of the RO membrane, which can quickly be fouled by many different chemicals in the water that can easily be removed in other ways.
Municipal water systems throughout the United States have been adding fluoride to the drinking water since the 1940s, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) considers widespread fluoridation one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century. This mineral is added to the water to help prevent tooth decay, which studies show has dropped dramatically across the country since this practice was put into effect. Since that time, however, fluoride has become much more common in other sources, including toothpastes and mouth washes.
While there is evidence that water fluoridation has health benefits, there are many people who are concerned about this mineral. In high doses, fluoride is a known toxin. It can also cause fluorosis, a disease in which the bones become thickened and more likely to fracture, as well as chronic pain and stiffness in the joints. Studies have also found that tooth decay has declined in the past 40 years in many industrialized nations, including those that do not fluoridate their water supplies, casting doubt on fluoride’s role.
Many arguments against fluoride can be made from a medical and ethical standpoint as well. There is concern that there is no way to control how much fluoride each individual gets, which is especially problematic because it goes to every person who drinks water, no matter their age or other medical conditions. In addition, there is no individual consent: you get this treatment whether you want it or not. Critics also point to a lack of randomized controlled trials that show fluoride’s effectiveness and a lack of monitoring.
Whether or not you are concerned about the safety of fluoride, you may want to consider water filters that remove fluoride from your home’s water for a variety of reasons. A specialized fluoride water filter can be an effective tool to allow you to control how much of this mineral you and your family consume.