The University of Texas unveiled a plan to install two fluoride-free drinking fountains on their campus. UT heralded this plan as the “first in the nation,” but Texas State’s water fountains have always been fluoride-free.
Water fluoridation is the process in which fluoride is added to water by the government. This fluoride is added to prevent tooth decay, but has become controversial over the years due to concerns about how safe the compound is.
Robert Love, UT public affairs graduate student, was the author of the bill passed by UT’s Student Government to install reverse-osmosis water fountains on their campus, thus making the water fluoride-free.
Love hopes that these new fountains will be installed by the spring semester. Fluoride is not in all water, but is found in big cities, such as the San Marcos water system. However, Texas State does not add fluoride, according to Juan Guerra.
Guerra, associate vice president of facilities, said all of the fountains on Texas State’s main campus are fluoride-free. Texas State services their fountains with a supply of well water, thus the water is fluoride-free.
Not all buildings have fluoride-free water though. Complexes on the east side of the San Marcos River, such as Jowers Center and Strahan Coliseum, are serviced by the City of San Marcos and have fluoridated water.
Guerra said cities typically fluoridate their water due to the health benefits it brings to young children’s dental health. However, Guerra said students are only here for a short time frame, thus fluoridation isn’t needed.
“This university has never fluoridated its water,” Guerra said. “We’ve used well water since the inception of the university.”
Luychelle Aguirre, undecided freshman, feels that even if fluoride was in the water, that it wouldn’t make much of an impact. She said people rarely use water fountains at Texas State.
“I’ve probably used a water fountain about nine times in my entire life,” Luychelle said. “I don’t trust the water. Even so, I think a little bit of fluoride is ok.”
Texas State is currently contemplating fluoridating its water. Guerra said there is debate surrounding whether fluoride is health-beneficial or unnecessary. University officials are also discussing the cost benefits.
“We’re doing that study right now,” Guerra said. “We’re trying to answer the question of ‘Are we making the right choice by not fluoridating our water?’”
Fluoride has been in water systems for a relatively short amount of time.
“Some public health experts said it was good in the 1950s,” Love said. “This same guy was also responsible for injecting cancer patients with radioactive elements to see what would happen. He was not the most ethical person.”
Love has researched fluoridation extensively. Love focused primarily on the diseases fluoride worsens, for the purposes of the bill. Love said fluoride is dangerous to people with kidney disease, heart disease, thyroid disease and diabetes.
“People with kidney disease are told to drink a lot of water, but this just perpetuates the problem,” Love said. “They’re consuming more and more fluoride, thus causing the kidneys to work harder to filter out fluoride.”
Love said it’s especially dangerous to women and African-Americans due to the fact that the diseases worsened by fluoride are most commonly found among these groups.