SPRINGVILLE — Although a group of community members had asked the Springville Village Board of Trustees to form a committee to re-evaluate the necessity and safety of putting fluoride into the village water system, the board looked into the matter and determined that such a move was not necessary. That decision was formally announced, during a May 20 meeting.
The individuals who brought forward their fluoride opposition based part of their reasoning on fluoride’s effect on people’s health. They cited a 2006 report from the National Research Council that said, “Fluoride, even at low doses added to water supplies, can be especially harmful to the thyroid gland, kidney patients, babies, seniors and people who drink high amounts of water.”
That report also showed a link between fluoride and cancer and the chemical and low IQs, according to an information kit provided by the anti-fluoride group.
Fluoride is an ion that comes from the element fluorine, which is the 13th most abundant element in the earth’s crust. Fluoride is placed in items such as toothpaste and mouthwash, to prevent tooth decay.
In an open letter to the village board members and elected officials, Erie County resident Mark Maussner, who asked for the discontinuation of the public water fluoridation in Springville, said, “It is harmful to our health. The advantages of ending water fluoridation are improved health for our populace and making Springville a very attractive destination, indeed, for the thousands of people all across our state, who seek to dwell in a non-fluoridated community.”
The New York counties of Suffolk, Nassau and Rockland, as well as Albany, Elba, Naples, Levittown, Canton, Corning, Jamestown, Oneida, Carle Place, Beacon, Poughkeepsie, Riverhead, Central Bridge Water District, Homer, Ithaca, Rouses Point, Pulaski, Romulus and Amsterdam were cited, by the anti-fluoride group, as locations that have ceased or rejected public water fluoridation.
After a Springville Journal article alerted him to the citizen request to end this treatment in Springville, Public Health Engineer David Rowley of the New York State Department of Health reached out to Springville Superintendent of Public Works Karl Lux. “As you are aware, drinking water fluoridation is strongly supported by the NYS Department of Health,” Rowley said.
Lux said that the DOH regulates the village fluoride treatments and sets the standard for the element’s injection into Springville’s water.
Maussner pointed out that European countries do not treat their citizens through drinking water, but Dr. Joseph Rumfola of Family Dentistry in Springville cited the low number of individuals reached by the European public water system. “They are still treating their public,” he said. “They just put fluoride in their salt, much as we do, to provide iodine, here.”
Rumfola added that “dosage is the most critical point to consider,” when making a determination about the effects of fluoride. “Much of what was written about the health risks concerning fluoride is true at levels well beyond what is added to Springville’s water supply,” he said. “At very high doses, vitamins are toxic, antibiotics are toxic and even too much water can be fatal.”
The anti-fluoride individuals also said that they believed adding fluoride to public water is akin to forced medication. “It’s public health,” Rumfola said. “I look at it the same way as inoculations. You don’t have to get them.”
Springville Mayor William Krebs said, “Our fluoride program is based on sound science and medical recommendations. We did not begin it on a whim. The village did its homework.”
The American Dental Association has recommended fluoridation as a way to help prevent tooth decay. “More than 60 years of research and experience have shown that fluoridation, at optimal levels, does not harm people or the environment,” the department said.
The United States Public Health Services also recommended community water fluoridation as a means of preventing dental decay. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called public water fluoridation “one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.”
The Springville community group said that fluoride also causes fluorosis, which, according to the CDC, “is a change in the appearance of the tooth’s enamel. These changes can vary from barely noticeable white spots in mild forms, to staining and pitting, in the more severe forms.”
The CDC said that fluorosis is caused only when children consume “too much fluoride, from any source, over long periods, when teeth are developing, under the gums.”
Rumfola said that, in the 10 years he has been operating in Springville, he has “never seen a severe case of fluorosis. When there are high levels, people get chalky, white spots. They get more and more white and then brown spots appear; then pitting. I have never seen that, except in textbooks. If the levels are controlled, it’s not going to be an issue. People do not have to worry.”
The amount fluoride placed in Springville’s public water system is overseen by the New York State Department of Health. According to the ADA, the optimal level for preventing tooth decay is a range from .07 – 1.2 parts per million. A 1995 report by the Springville Fluoridation Committee said that the “mixed proportion of fluoride to water” in the village is 1 part per million, “well within the dosage range.”
“It’s true that, in high concentrations, [fluoride] could have a negative effect,” Rumfola said. “At high concentrations, fluoride can cause low IQ. There is a link. Too much can make bones brittle. But, that is when you have too much; not anywhere close to what we are getting.”
Although fluoride is found in water in many places throughout the world, naturally-occurring water is not detectable in Springville’s untreated water. Rumfola said that he had his well water tested and found no fluoride. “We are fortunate that we generally do not have to worry about overexposure to fluoride, because its levels are well-regulated,” he said.
Water is placed into Springville’s public water system at the village water plant on North Central Avenue, in accordance with state and county health department requirements.
“This is the most cost effective way to deliver fluoride to residents,” Krebs said. “There is a very low amount of fluoride. We will not discontinue this program, unless there is sound medical research, to prove we should.”
Maussner and others who oppose adding fluoride to public water pointed out that many communities across the country have ceased treating their water systems.
“Yes, hundreds have said no to it,” Rumfola said. “But thousands have said yes. There is a very vocal minority. But this should be a non-issue.”
More information about fluoride and dental health will be provided in an upcoming edition of the Springville Journal.
For more information about the CDC, visit www.cdc.gov. To find out more about the ADA, visit www.ada.org.