On Sept. 2, the Portland Press Herald published a front-page article headlined “Excess lead in water sparks call for testing at all schools.” In the article, reporter Gillian Graham stated, “The Environmental Protection Agency requires action to remove lead from drinking water when it reaches 15 parts per billion, but the agency also says there is no safe level of lead exposure.”

Obviously, lead in drinking water is a serious issue, especially now that we have seen the tragic results of lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan. However, it also seems that the elephant in the room is being entirely ignored.

Since industrial toxicity ratings have found that fluoride is slightly more toxic than lead, and arsenic is slightly more toxic than fluoride, it would be logical to assume that the EPA’s allowable maximum contaminant levels for fluoride and arsenic would be even more stringent than the maximum contaminant level of 15 ppb for lead.

However, that is the case only for arsenic, which is allowed in drinking water by the EPA at 10 ppb. The EPA’s allowable maximum contaminant level for fluoride in drinking water is 4,000 ppb.

Now that fluoride has been declared a developmental neurotoxicant and has been placed in the same category as arsenic, lead and methylmercury by The Lancet, one of the world’s most prestigious medical journals, it seems that we are ignoring this enormous disparity at our peril.

Janice Hanson