A citizens group in Hastings is now circulating a petition to ensure that if fluoride is put in the city’s water that the compound is safe for humans.
Marvin “Butch” Hughes, local chapter organizer of Nebraskans for Safe Water, is leader of the petition drive that started after the Hastings City Council voted to put a petition on the ballot giving voters the option on if fluoride will even be added to the water.
On Monday, the Hastings City Council unanimously approving putting the fluoride issue on the ballot.
The ballot language that selected states: “Shall the City of Hastings, Nebraska, adopt an ordinance to prohibit the addition of fluoride to the city’s water supply?”
Voters then can vote “yes” to prohibit the use of fluoride or “no” to state their support of fluoride.
That ballot language wasn’t enough for Hughes who is now with members of Nebraskans for Safe Water circulating a petition to put working on the ballot that would prohibit hydrofluosilicic acid, which he considers to have potential health risks, from being put into the water.
On June 9, Hughes presented the council with a proposed ordinance that would require Hastings Utilities to present citizens with information about the health factors related to the hydrofluosilicic acid, containing fluoride, that would be put into the city’s water.
“However, for a lack of interest, a lack of initiative, a lack of knowledge, a lack of care, lack of just interest whatever, there was a lack of something. That’s why the council did not pursue this more,” he said.
Hughes said the council had two weeks to look over the proposed ordinance that would have required the supplier to provide the city with information stating that the fluorosilicic acid was safe for human consumption.
Now Hughes is collecting signatures to put his ballot language on the ballot which states: “Shall an ordinance prohibiting the addition of fluorosilicic acid or other fluorine-containing chemicals to the public water systems be added to the municipal code of the city of Hastings?”
Hughes said he has to collect more than 2,100 signatures by Sept. 1 to put his ballot language on the ballot. In an effort to ensure that enough valid signatures are secured, he said the group’s goal is to collect 3,000 signatures.
County election commissioner Chris Lewis said that once the signatures are gathered they need to be taken to the city clerk’s office. She may be contacted to verify the signatures.
Once the signatures have been verified and if the city determines the issue can go on the ballot, Lewis said she needs to be notified by Sept. 1 to get the information on the Nov. 4 ballot.
And instead of asking for signatures from voters at events such as the city’s Fourth of July celebration or Adams County Fairfest, Hughes said he plans to go door-to-door in hopes of sharing information with voters about fluoride.
In a conversation Wednesday, Hughes said he learned from Hastings Utilities that the hydrofluosilicic acid that would be put into the city’s water to add fluoride is only 27 percent fluoride.
“And the rest is inert materials and colloidal silica and those inert materials are things like arsenic, borilium, lead and other heavy materials. It doesn’t take much of them to cause an issue with health matters,” he said.
Hughes said his concern is that its not just fluoride that is being put into the water. There are other materials that will come into the water with it.
“There’s a huge difference,” he said. “It’s the difference between a farmer ordering a load of alfalfa hay and paying for it and getting a load of straw. It’s a huge difference.”
All Hughes said he really wants is to know that if citizens vote to put fluoride in the water then the compound used needs to be safe for human consumption. He said he wants to see the statistics and not just an endorsement from the American Medical Association or the American Dental Association speaking in favor of it.
“We want to see data and I can’t find any data. That’s my concern,” he said. “Show us the stuff and if the stuff is there to prove it’s safe, that’s great. But an endorsement is not a study. An endorsement is ‘I like you. Okay I support you.” That doesn’t mean I’m good or you’re good.”
Marty Stange, environmental engineer with Hastings Utilities, said that while he did not have all of the data Hughes was seeking about the hydrofluosilicic acid, he could say that while there are some heavy materials in the acid, many of those materials are also naturally occurring in the water HU rate payers drink every day.