As the saying goes, there are two sides to everything. At the Utility Committee meeting held at City Hall on Tuesday, July 18th, guest speakers presented two distinctly opposing views on the issue of city water fluoridation.
“We wanted to explore both sides,” Lafayette Mayor Bill Wells said identifying the purpose of Tuesday’s meeting, as well as the reason for discontinuing Lafayette’s water fluoridation process November 9th, 2005.
Local resident Gwenn Fontana has a chemistry degree from Vanderbilt and is writing her thesis for a Master’s degree in nutrition.
Fontana provided information about the risks of fluoridation, emphasizing that fluorine is an “acute toxin.”
She also described Fluorine as a “reactive compound” and explained, “There are many industrial uses for Fluorine. Because of its corrosive nature, it is used in glass etching, pesticides, and rat poision.”
According to Fontanna’s presentation, healthy kidneys only secrete about half the fluoride injested, and the rest is absorbed in body tissue.
Warning labels on fluoride toothpaste and the poison symbol on MSDS sheets were cited by Fontana to support her statements about the hazards of ingesting fluoride.
Fontana presented information comparing the effects of fluoride to those of lead and cyanide.
According to Fontana’s report, harmful effects can occur over a lifetime of ingesting fluoride including: calcification of soft tissue; weakening of the immune system; removal of calcium ……where it is needed; cancer; …ostioporosis; abnormal brain development; mottling of tooth enamel; locking joints; and hormone depletion.
The case in favor of water fluoridation was presented by Dr. Cathy Phillips.
Dr. Phillips has been a dentist for 29 years and she is currently the Regional Dental Director for the 14 county Upper Cumberland Region.
The Dental Director provided information about water fluoridation benefits citing the Surgeon General’s statement: “Fluoridation is the single most effective measure to prevent tooth decay in children and adults.”
Dr. Phillips presented statistics reflecting 96% of Tennessee’s cities with fluoridated water and national approval of fluoridation at 78%.
“Fluoridation is the cornerstone of the community oral health program,” said Dr. Philips. She added that the American Dental Association identifies fluoridation as “safe, beneficial, and cost effective.”
According to Dr. Phillips, tooth decay can cause serious health problems and, “The American Medical Association encourages states to promote fluoridation.”
“No court has determined fluoridation unlawful, and courts have held fluoridation not to be invasive,” Dr. Phillips said.
Dr. Phillips stated, “No credible studies that stand up to scientific research oppose fluoridation.”
“There is not an urgent deadline for a decision,” Lafayette Mayor Bill Wells said, “And we’d rather err on the side of safety”. Describing the next steps in the water fluoridation decision making process, Mayor Wells explained, “The Utility Committee members will take time to absorb and understand the information and I hope they will make a recommendation”.