Ever since he received a kidney transplant from his wife, Rick Lucas has been watching what he eats and drinks. For instance, he’s cut down the amount of seafood he consumes, and doesn’t touch green tea.
But Lucas and his wife do drink water, and plenty of it. He estimates they each drink at least two liters of water a day.
“We drink quite a bit more water than any of my children did,” says Lucas, who lives at 315 W. Columbia St.
That’s why the prospect of the city of Chippewa Falls fluoridating its water has Lucas concerned. He quoted from an April 1993 toxicological profile from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
“Existing data indicate that subsets of the population may be unusually susceptible to the toxic effects of fluoride and its compounds. These populations include the elderly, people with deficiencies of calcium, magnesium and-or Vitamin C, and people with cardiovascular and kidney problems.”
“I seem to be getting a lot more of a chemical I really shouldn’t have,” Lucas told about 40 people at the city’s fluoride forum Thursday at Trinity United Methodist Church.
Lucas points to a fluoride program offered in the Chippewa Falls School District, where parents pay a fee to have their children swish a fluoride rinse in their mouths every day.
“If the parents have to sign to have fluoride to be administered at that time, why don’t they have to have that done now?” he asked.
Lucas was one of 12 people who spoke at the forum before next Tuesday’s advisory referendum on adding fluoride to the water supply. Only two of the 12 favored adding fluoride.
One of them was Ray Myers, chairman of the Wisconsin Oral Health Coalition. Myers is also assistant administrator at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chippewa Falls.
About two years ago, Myers said the hospital began seeing patients with major dental problems.
“We can improve the water in Chippewa Falls by having fluoridation,” he said, adding it is the major step the city could take to improve dental care.
Jean Durch, director of the Chippewa County Department of Public Health, said the county’s Oral Health Initiative approached the Family Health Center of Marshfield about helping to improve the county’s dental health. The center then offered to give Chippewa Falls a grant to help offset part of the cost of fluoridation.
There is 50 years experience with fluoridation in the U.S. and it’s been found to be safe and effective, Durch said.
“If you think fluoride is safe, go home and read the label on your toothpaste,” said Orv Gauger of 1100 W. Spruce St. If children swallow too much of the paste, they are supposed to call the Centers for Disease Control, he said.
“This is a commercial grade rat poison,” he said of commercial fluoride.
Dr. Deb Bieging, one of the members of an ad hoc committee that looked into the health benefits and risks of fluoride, said a six ounce tube of Crest toothpaste has 225 milligrams of fluoride. For a child to get the same amount of fluoride through fluoridated water, she said, “They would have to drink 225 liters of water.”
Rollie Enderes of 251 Olive St. said all the statistics about fluoride do not mean anything to him, but being able to choose whether to take fluoride does. “The freedom of choice is really gone when you’re forcing everyone to consume it,” he said.
Enderes said he grew up in Chippewa Falls, and shares a pride of its water with other city residents.
“Now we’re choosing to put a foreign chemical into it and I can’t comprehend why we (would) do that,” he said.