A public health advocate has agreed to add his views to the debate over whether fluoride should be removed from East Brunswick’s water supply.
Paul Connett, director of the Fluoride Action Network — an international coalition that maintains fluoride has negative health effects — was invited to speak at a future Township Council meeting by Councilman Michael Spadafino, council representative to the East Brunswick Water Policy Advisory Committee.
“I would like to be able to make sure that the council is totally advised and everything is balanced, because we all want to make the right decision,” Spadafino said in an April 13 interview.
Spadafino said he reached out to Connett about coming to East Brunswick to provide testimony on the issue.
The ongoing fluoride conversation has been a topic of debate among East Brunswick residents since Mayor David Stahl announced in his State of the Township address in February that he is interested in removing fluoride from the township’s water system.
The mayor has since declined to comment further on the issue.
Township officials voted to add fluoride to East Brunswick’s water system via ordinance in the mid-1950s. A new ordinance would need to be created to eliminate the previous one.
Several residents have attended council meetings to argue that keeping fluoride in the water system is a crucial method of fighting dental disease, noting that it is supported by reputable organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Residents opposed to fluoride in the water system have also attended council meetings, with some saying that they believe the fluoride is making them sick.
“I want to be able to make sure that all sides are completely represented,” Spadafino said.
He said he is not sure whether the council would hold a debate on the issue, or whether Connett would only be able to speak for five minutes during the public comment portion of a meeting as any resident would.
Council President Michael Hughes said he has already rejected the idea of holding a public debate.
“A council meting is not the time or place for a debate on fluoride,” Hughes said.
In an April 13 interview, Connett said he would be glad to come to East Brunswick to speak about the issue, although he would rather participate in a debate.
“I would prefer a debate, and the reason for that is when these things come up before council, typically the other side will try to intimidate them by bringing in lots of so-called experts, which usually turn out to be dentists,” Connett said.
“But they are very intimidating, because they look at the council and say, ‘We’re your doctors. We’re your dentists. Trust us.’
“It’s an intimidating tactic, and I want to show the citizens there that when these people are challenged to defend their position, they run for cover.”
Connett, who is based in Binghamton, New York, is a retired chemistry professor and author of the book “The Case Against Fluoride.”
He has said fluoride has been linked to lower thyroid function, lower IQs, impact on bones and potential kidney damage.
But representatives from the New Jersey Dental Association, such as Director of Governmental and Public Affairs Jim Schulz, have rebutted Connett’s claims.
“We look to the CDC, the World Health Organization, the National Institute of Health, and countless peer-reviewed, credible studies that show it is the right thing to do,” Schulz said of putting fluoride in the water system. “And certainly from a trend, the growth of community water fluoridation is absolutely irrefutable over the last 65 years.
“So, to us, we look at this as a total body of evidence, and we rely on these experts to help guide us through this.
“It has been shown that fluoride, when added to the water in the recommended levels, is an effective way to fight dental disease.”
Schulz said the New Jersey Dental Association would be open to engaging in a debate or discussion with East Brunswick officials.
“We at the New Jersey Dental Association always welcome the opportunity to have a discussion about oral health and ways to improve oral health and community water fluoridation,” Schulz said. “Should the council believe that to be necessary and want to hear from us, we would welcome that opportunity, and we would look forward to having that conversation and bringing local dentists to that conversation, as well.”
He said that the New Jersey Dental Association has testified at the state legislative level multiple times in response to the fluoride conversation.
• See the Fluoridation Debate: Paul Connett (FAN Exec Director) vs. Richard Kahn (Past-President of NJ Dental Association) on whether East Brunswick, NJ, should continue to fluoridate its water.