Everett City Council Wearies of Anti-Fluoride Activists

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Everett City Council wearies of anti-fluoride activists

By Debra Smith, Herald Writer


EVERETT — Kathleen Grieci came to the City Council with a list of physical ailments, an empty water jug and a warning.

The city needs to stop adding fluoride to the water, the Everett woman told city leaders earlier this month.

If it doesn’t, “I’m going to rally my community to knock on your door and to be up here speaking and to send you emails,” she told the council.

That didn’t sit well with Council President Ron Gipson.

“We appreciate what you’re saying, but our council doesn’t take too kindly to threats,” he said.

If Gipson seemed a bit tart, it might be because council members are growing weary.

In the past year, anti-fluoridation activists have asked the City Council at nearly 20 meetings to stop fluoridating water.

They claim fluoridation is linked to major health problems, including osteoporosis, kidney disease, thyroid problems, mental illness, lower intelligence in children and unsightly teeth.

They’re also asking the council to ignore Snohomish Health District experts who say scientific studies show fluoridated water is a safe, low-cost way to combat tooth decay as well as the will of Everett voters, who in 1993 voted 61 percent in favor of keeping the water fluoridated.

“That’s why we have national organizations with panels of experts who can read these studies and say what they really mean,” said LeeAnn Cooper, a registered dental hygienist who has worked for the Snohomish Health District for 25 years researching fluoridated drinking water.

The American Dental Association, the American Medical Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all strongly support community water fluoridation, she added.

The most persistent of the anti-fluoride activists is James Deal, a Lynnwood attorney with an anti-fluoride web site.

He maintains that the type of fluoride used in Everett’s drinking water is a toxic substance and does “little to nothing” to reduce dental decay.

The city supplies nearly three-quarters of Snohomish County with drinking water — including Lynnwood, where Deal lives.

He’s repeatedly asked city leaders for a moratorium on water fluoridation and more study.

In public meetings, all the council members have said they do not plan to stop fluoridating Everett’s water.

“This is why I became a lawyer,” Deal said. “I don’t like it when bullies beat up on babies and old ladies.”

Deal also asked for a special forum at City Council to air his views. City leaders granted him 15 minutes June 6. They also invited Dr. Gary Goldbaum, head of the Snohomish Health District, who shared information on what the experts say on the benefits of public water fluoridation.

Council members have received dozens of phone calls, a stack of information from activists, and numerous emails including some from overseas, said Councilman Jeff Moore.

Moore said he and other council members have spent hours reviewing the materials. He said the preponderance of scientific evidence supports fluoridation.

If city leaders thought offering the activists a forum would satisfy them, they were wrong.

Deal and others continue to speak at City Council against fluoridating water. And Deal said he plans to keep coming back.

“I’m not discouraged in the least,” he said. “Someday, Jeff Moore will thank me for having made Everett quit this vice.”

Fluoride remains the lowest cost way of preventing tooth decay for adults and children of all income levels, said Cooper, who fields questions about fluoride as part of her job with the health district.

Since fluoridation of drinking water was introduced in the 1950s, tooth decay has dropped by more than 50 percent and so have the number and size of fillings.

However, adding fluoride to water is no magic bullet. People still have to brush and floss their teeth, she said.

She watched the June 6 fluoride presentations at City Council. Cooper said she was concerned by what she heard from anti-fluoride activists.

Some of their information was flat wrong, she said; other details mischaracterized the evidence or came from studies considered unreliable by mainstream science, she said.

Everett’s fluoridation practices meet every standard set by the Environmental Protection Agency, according to the city’s annual drinking water report.

Fluoride directly fights decay on the surface of teeth but when swallowed it also becomes part of saliva, which also protects the teeth from decay, Cooper said.

There is no reliable scientific evidence that fluoridated drinking water lowers intelligence or causes thyroid or kidney problems, she said.

Fluoride can be a poisonous substance but at levels far greater than found in drinking water. That’s true of quite a few other substances, such as chlorine, which is also added to drinking water, she said.

The fluoride added to drinking water is a byproduct of phosphate fertilizer production. It’s shipped to manufacturers who purify it for use in drinking water so that it meets EPA standards.

Excessive exposure to high amounts of fluoride can causes fluorosis, which produces streaks or spots on tooth enamel. Fluorosis ranges from very mild cases that are barely noticeable, to white streaks or brown spots. Nationally, fluoridation is linked to an increase in mild cases of fluorosis, Cooper said.

In recent years, the EPA determined that a lower level of fluoride in drinking water can provide the same level of protection without increasing the risk of mild cases of fluorosis. The federal agency is now recommending lowering the amount of fluoride added to drinking water to .7 parts per million. The current recommendation is .8 to 1.2 parts per million. The city of Everett has .7 parts per million fluoride in its water.

The EPA’s new recommendation was not driven by major health concerns related to fluoride, she said.

What’s also true is that adding fluoride to a community’s drinking system removes the ability of people to choose to opt out of exposure, Cooper said.

Debra Smith: 425-339-3197 or dsmith@heraldnet.com.

4 thoughts on “Everett City Council Wearies of Anti-Fluoride Activists

  1. jim

    Cooper is one of the paid fluoridation clowns that is a cut and paste endorsement expert of government agencies but is smart enough to avoid real science. The first of many EPA unions objected to fluoridation in 1983 with then President Robert Carton PHD calling it a fraud for years. They even joined a lawsuit to halt fluoridation in 1986. Bill Hirzy PHD vice president of the NTEU also spoke to congress about 2000 to seek the halt of fluoridation. By 2005 11 EPA unions of 7000 professionals had asked congress to halt fluoridation. Lots of whistle blowing to ignore. By Feb 29 2008 the number grew to 19 unions and 10,000 which was reported almost nowhere. How could the so called expert not mention this massive revolt of real scientists against the fraud of protecting policy over people. By the way the ADA also had a gag rule against honest dentists so the could be fined and lose their license if they even mentioned mercury was a toxin and found in dental fillings. Speaking against fluoridation also puts dentists at risk with their boards for professional conduct as they are expected to promote this worthless harmful at best policy. The huge documented increases in dental fluorisis have increased dental incomes sharply which might seem a conflict of interest to many. Is their some sort of denial going on that ignores the ADA, CDC warning that infants should avoid fluoridated water for formula if dental fluorosis is a concern. At least most health departments will admit this risk exists at times but just not to the public. Can not risk losing trust in a top ten public health policy. They just learn to live with the knowledge that the moderate and severe damage is double in blacks and hispanics said CDC data from 1999 to 2005 in three studies. Showed 41 % of all kids had some damage but averaged in the much lower damage in non fluoridated cities to keep the number looking lower. The UK York Review 2000 showed 15% damaged before fluoridation but 48% after fluoridation with 12.5% sop badly then as to need expensive repairs. What a fantastic incentive lots of expensive cosmetic repairs. Too bad poor minorities just can not afford to make dentists richer. In my county only 4 of over 200 dentists even treat the poor on medicaid. Sort of a unofficial boycott on poor blacks. For years we had no public health dentist then one who did not treat a single kid for 18 months with a staff of 4 during a slow office remodel. Then he treated 6 per day for 5 months and quit with no notice. Then no dentist again for almost a year. Then the next guy got paid 45 per mouth so treated 30 per day average with one more tech. Public health is where total failure can be passed off as success as it only hurts the poor who have low expectations anyway. Read the story on the Daytona Beach news Journal if you wish.
    It is hard to believe what poor reporting is passed off for a story. The article is below lazy and more likely is poor reporting by intent.

  2. valerie lehmans

    1] Ms Cooper needs to be asked why, if the FDA was not driven by health concerns, they would simply decide one day to lower their recommended levels?!

    2] She needs to be referred to all the various scientific studies showing the damaging effects of fluoride on kidneys, thyroid etc. plus photos of teeth suffering from severe fluorosis, which actually destroys the teeth.

    3] She needs to be asked what is the exact process by which ingested fluoride simply finds its way to the teeth and no other part of the body; and asked if fluoride can harden enamel as is claimed, how can it not interact with other organs?

    4] She needs to be asked why statistics show that tooth decay has decreased in many countries that are not fluoridated.

    “…..but when swallowed it also becomes part of saliva,”
    This infers that it doesn’t mix with saliva until AFTER swallowing. It may be a misquote but is certainly not a scientific statement.

    This just seems to be an ongoing “he says, she says” battle, where one suspects no amount of evidence is going to influence the other side. Only public pressure will achieve that.

  3. Marianne Lincoln

    I carry a water jug in my car because I cannot drink water in any major city in my state. The reason? I am one of the 2% that is fluoride sensitive/allergic. The promotion of this practice does not take into account people like me. It is truly unfair. My neice, who is a child therapist just recently came across a child at her practice having issues with toothpaste. Because of me she was able to tell the parents their child was fluoride allergic.
    When do I/we get better water?
    Right, who cares. It’s all about selling your doggone chemical by hiding the real facts.
    Phooey on you all.
    And quit insulting us. We are not whackos, we know the truth you are hiding. I happen to be a chemist.

  4. Rae Nadler-Olenick

    Just a few comments on this story which is riddled with errors and misrepresentations:

    1) fluoride does not circulate in the saliva. It’s quickly drawn into the bones and soft tissues like the thyroid where it continues to accumulate throughout the lifetime

    2) the toxic fluorosilicic acid byproduct of the phosphate fertilizer industry used for water fluoridation is NOT sent to manufacturers for purification (you have it confused with the “pharmaceutical” grade of sodium fluoride used in toothpaste – an entirely different product) . It is sold directly to city water utilities for human consumption with no processing beyond dilution with water.

    3) Chlorine – to which fluoride is often simplistically compared – has a legitimate use as a disinfectant. It is also easily removed from the water by a simple charcoal filter…or just by letting the water sit. Fluoride has no such purpose, and it requires costly, elaborate equipment to remove.

    4) LeeAnn Cooper, a professional fluoridation promoter, was quoted six times in the piece. Opponent James Deal was quoted twice.

    This was a very lazy article. The reporter needs to learn to dig deeper.

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