Fluoride Action Network

Fluoride: What’s left to be said?

Source: The Examiner | February 4th, 2003 | by David Tanner
Location: United States, Missouri

Mayor Ron Stewart says he’s tired of people lining up to speak about fluoride at City Council meetings.

The mayor said Monday he would humor the six speakers waiting to speak against fluoridation of the Independence water supply, but he was pretty sure the city staff, City Council and the Advisory Board of Health had enough information to render an opinion.

“We’ve had a lot of discussion on fluoride,” Stewart said, “… I can’t deny anyone the right to speak. I can sit here and pretend to listen.

Stewart said a lot of the information coming forward was redundant.

“I’ve got two cardboard boxes in my office with memos and letters and information,” he said, “It seems like we’re getting some of the same-old same-old all of a sudden.”

While the two sides to the issue have clearly made their cases, the six speakers Monday offered some last-minute comments before the City Council decides how to handle the issue in a couple of weeks.

Frequent speaker John Pennell has tried at recent meetings to point out flaws in the pro-fluoride stance.

Pennell argued the Advisory Board of Health’s recommendation included information about the fluoride ion being non-toxic. He cited the Dictionary of Toxicology which defines “fluoride ion” as being a “highly toxic component of hydrogen fluoride … At low concentrations helps prevent tooth decay but higher concentrations cause fluorosis.”

Other speakers included Jerry Banark, Ray Lewis, Rita Morgan, Bill Baggett and Mary Ann Wilson, all of whom have spoken before and were allowed three minutes by assistant city clerk Gordon Apperson.

Each speaker had a different twist on the issue.

Morgan said the advisory board incorrectly used information from New York chemistry professor Dr. Paul Connett in its study of the fluoride literature. The board gathered information at a public hearing in November.

Connett, who is actively against fluoridation, was listed as one of 15 consultants the board used in formulating its opinion to recommend the city raise its fluoride content in the water to 0.8 parts per million.

The American Dental Association recommends 0.7 to 1.2 parts per million in the water “to prevent tooth decay.”

Connett contacted The Examiner when he found out he was on the list of consultants after having one telephone conversation with advisory board chair Dr. Howard Braby.

“In no way could my response to his questions be interpreted as intended to help the development of a fluoride proposal,” Connett said. Morgan echoed that statement in her comments to the City Council.

“The citizens are responding to a threat,” Lewis said as a reason for coming forward. “The citizens of Independence pay to have good quality water.”

Baggett told council members he was ready for the public to vote on it.

“Go get a petition and let’s get it on,” Baggett said.

Stewart has said numerous times he is letting the information run its course so no one can complain about not being heard.

Stewart has not committed a pro- or anti-fluoride opinion to the public.

The mayor said he is allowing the other council members to make up their own minds on the issue and he is not trying to influence a vote.