Dr. Paul Connett, a professor of environmental chemistry at St. Lawrence University in New York and director of the Fluoride Action Network—America’s largest organization opposing water fluoridation—kicked off his six-day Austin tour at the Nov. 4 Austin City Council meeting where he pressed the council to consider re-evaluation of the city’s water fluoridation practices.
Dr. Connett is touring Austin Nov. 4–9 in support of his new book The Case Against Fluoride: How Hazardous Waste Ended Up in Our Drinking Water and the Bad Science and Powerful Politics That Keep it There. He has given more than 2,000 presentations on issues of waste management in 49 states and 52 countries. He chose Austin as a stop on his book tour because of what he views as the city’s importance in the fight against water fluoridation.
“We are here because we think Austin has a good chance of stopping water fluoridation and, secondly, if Austin—a major city and the capital of Texas—stopped fluoridating its water supply, it would have enormous national ramifications.”
Austin is among three key areas in the fluoridation fight and has a strong base of highly qualified people who are getting organized, he said. The other key areas are San Diego, CA—which does not have fluoridated water and is in the midst of currently deciding whether or not to add fluoride— and Denver, CO and surrounding areas, which have fluoridated water supplies.
The City of Austin’s environmental board was concerned enough by the citizens’ objection to water fluoridation in August 2009 to request an independent study, which would initiate the process that would lead to a re-evaluation of water fluoridation practices. Instead the board received a report Dec. 2009 by representatives from the Human and Health Services Department, Austin Water Utility, Assistant City Manager Rudy Garza, and the Watershed Protection Development Review Department.
It was a three-page report, which contained no apparent research, yet concluded that fluoride levels were within safe limits, according to CDC guidelines, said Mary Gay Maxwell, chairwoman of the environmental board. “We had enough concern about it and enough interest in it to forward it to the council, but it wasn’t taken seriously,” Maxwell said.
A group of experts and concerned citizens, including Ted Norris, who has an MD and a PhD in neuro-endocrinology from the University of Texas, and Bill Kiel, who was a former councilman in Alamo Heights, Texas, when they overturned the decision to fluoridate the city’s water supply, decided to pursue the issue independently.
The group met with council staffers and Councilman Chris Riley in May 2010 in an attempt to garner the two council sponsors necessary to go forward with the issue, assemble an independent task force, and ultimately get the votes of four council members that would be necessary to reverse the decision. Other experts in attendance included Griffin Cole, an Austin dentist with a fluoride-free practice, and Neil Carman, Sierra Club Clean Air Program Director who has a PhD in plant chemistry.
Councilman Riley and the staffers said that moving forward without the support of the mainstream medical community would be difficult, though all were receptive and sympathetic to the cause, said Keil.
“Any two council members can put an item on the agenda and when that happens, we will see, but so far nobody has approached me about putting it on the agenda,” Mayor Lee Leffingwell said following the Nov. 4 City Council meeting.
Austin residents interested in more information on water fluoridation can attend the fluoride debate at the Thompson Conference Center at the University of Texas, Austin Nov. 4 from 7 to 9 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. For more information and a full schedule of Dr. Connett’s Austin events visit www.caseagainstfluoridebook.com