Floridation Of Water Essay

4281 words - 18 pages

Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies: A Beneficial Police Action or an Interference with Liberty.

The fluoridation of public water for the express purpose of preventing tooth decay, more formally called dental caries, has been the subject of numerous state lawsuits, yet up to this point none of them have been upheld. The theory behind this practice, which now affects about 130 million people in the United States, is that the ingestion of fluoride will harden the surfaces of the teeth and make them less susceptible to tooth decay.
Health and Safety Code § 116410 requires fluoridation of public water systems having at least 10,000 service connections and authorizes the ...view middle of the document...

Towanda Water-Works case in 1888. [4] The Towanda court helped reconcile the language of a statute in defining “pure” water as the same thing as “wholesome” water, which is to be furnished for the public consumption. Wholesome water does guarantee that the water must be free from additives or chemicals. [5] This case represented the first discussion of the quality of drinking water, and the government’s hand in how it should be managed. Shortly thereafter, the first drinking water standard was implemented by the U.S. Public Health Service.
In 1974 the United States enacted federal legislation known as the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The Safe Drinking Water Act is the principle federal law in the United States that ensures safe drinking water for the public. [6] The act authorizes the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) to set national health-based standards for drinking water to protect against both natural and man-made contaminants that may be found in drinking water. The US EPA publishes both a Recommended Maximum Contaminant Level (RMCL) and a Maximum Contaminant Level Goals (MCLG). [7] The US EPA works concurrently with the states to make sure that the standards are met.[8]
The US EPA and the states claim their authority to protect the public water supply because the assurance of safe drinking water is a fundamental right. [9] When water quality does not meet the minimum standards that the US EPA has set states may exercise their right of police power and protect the health and safety of its citizenry.
Many different parties have attacked fluoridation of public water systems using a litany of colorable arguments such as: lack of state authority, exceeding the scope of state police power, and violation of constitutional rights. But the fluoridation of state water systems has always been upheld as valid. [10]
One plausible explanation for this result may be the court’s common application of the easily satisfied “rational basis” form of judicial review. The courts generally apply this easily-satisfied test because all legislation is presumed constitutional on its face. Under this approach the government must only prove that worthy and legitimate goals were being sought by the practice of fluoridation and that the means employed were reasonably related to the successful meeting of those goals.[11]
Those who oppose fluoridation request that the courts employ the more demanding “strict scrutiny” test, which is the highest standard of judicial review, because fluoridation of the public water system may be challenged on constitutional grounds inter alia, which demands a higher level of judicial review because the statute may “interfere with the free exercise of some fundamental personal right or liberty.[12]

Issues of Efficacy

The first determinable issue in the fluoridation debate is whether fluoridation is actually effective in reducing tooth decay at all....

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