Jim Forleo is a local chiropractor who has been one of the most vocal opponents of the fluoride added to Durango’s drinking water system. He said the argument boils down to three major points: choice, source and health effects.
He pointed to the Federal Drug Administration’s website, which classifies fluoride as a drug. He said that by adding a drug to a water system to treat people or diseases, a person must give their permission, called informed consent.
“Water fluoridation is a form of mass medication administered to Durango residents without their consent and without medical oversight,” he said.
That’s why he started a petition drive in the fall to allow Durango residents to vote on whether they want to continue fluoridation of the city’s water or not. The ballot issue, Question 1A in the April 4 city election, seeks to discontinue fluoridation. A vote “for the ordinance” would discontinue fluoridation, while a vote “against the ordinance” would allow fluoridation to continue.
Forleo said the World Health Organization recommends fluoride exposure be considered by dental and public health administrators before introducing any additional fluoride program, which is not being done in Durango.
Forleo also points to the difference between the 1940 studies of fluoridation, which used naturally occurring calcium fluoride, to the industrial sodium fluoride now used in Durango’s water. The city gets the product from China.
He cited the “City of Durango 2016 Drinking Water Consumer Confidence Report” that states that the source of sodium fluoride added to the water for fluoridation is “discharge from fertilizer and aluminum factories.”
“The absorption rates of naturally occurring calcium fluoride is less than 10 percent,” he said. “The absorption rate of industrial sodium fluoride waste is 95 to 100 percent. This is a problem for Durango residents as sodium fluoride imported from China is a contaminated product that may contain significant amounts of lead, and traces of aluminum, arsenic, strontium, uranium and tungsten.”
Forleo said a 2006 National Academy of Science report says the impacts of fluoride toxicity include diabetes, hypothyroidism, kidney disease, cancer, endocrine system disruption and impaired brain development and function.
He said the medical journal Lancet in 2014 reclassified fluoride as a developmental neurotoxin, along with arsenic, lead, mercury, PCBs, DDT and others.
And Forleo said a Harvard team of researchers in 2012 found that fluoride exposure was associated with reduced IQ in children. He said researchers concluded that fluoride’s effect on developing brains should be a “high research priority” in countries such as the U.S. where mass fluoridation is used and no studies have been performed to investigate the issue.
He added that Harvard University researchers have linked fluoride ingestion to osteosarcoma (bone cancer).
“We at Clean Water Durango feel that water fluoridation goes against the precautionary principle, which demands that the introduction of a substance whose ultimate effects are disputed should be withheld to protect public health.