MADISON, Alabama – The Madison Utilities board of directors heard from about a dozen interested persons on both sides of the fluoride issue at Monday’s night’s work session.
After listening for about an hour of comments for and against keeping the chemical in the city’s water supply, board president Terris Tatum promised a decision will be made by the next regular meeting Monday at 5:30 p.m.
“We’ve been addressing this since December and it’s time to make a decision,” said Tatum.
Madison residents Robin and Ben Gremillion started the campaign late last year to have fluoride removed from the city’s drinking water supply after Robin began suffering from several medical problems she believes are caused by fluoride.
She said her health improved after installing a filter, which cost about $400, that removes fluoride from the water.
“We are not opposed to the use of topical fluorides such as those found in toothpaste and mouthwashes,” she told the board. “What we are opposed to is the fluoridation of our water supply, where individual rights have been taken away, and where a toxic chemical is forced to be swallowed by the whole population.”
Rebecca Griffin, wife of former NASA chief Dr. Michael Griffin, read a letter from her husband who requested the board to “halt” adding fluoride to the water, saying “multiple and well-documented studies have shown that ingesting fluoride in drinking water can result in significant harm.”
Several Madison dentists addressed the board about the importance of fluoride in the city’s drinking water.
Dr. David Whitworth.jpgMadison dentist Dr. David Whitworth believes fluoride helps reduce cavities. (The Huntsville Times/Robin Conn)
Madison’s first full-time dentist, Dr. David Whitworth, said he has seen both sides of the coin in his 33 years of practice, with fluoride being added in 1992, several years after he opened his dental office.
“I have observed that when I first opened, many children had extremely large cavities and teeth beyond repair,” said Whitworth. “After the community added fluoride (in the water), I’ve seen a significant decrease in cavities.”
Dr. Deborah Bishop, a dentist in Madison County, said it would be “a tragedy” not to provide fluoride for the children of Madison, especially those who may not be able to afford proper dental care.
Sherry Goode with the State Department of Public Health’s dental office said her office collects oral health data on children and said it is “astounding to see the difference in decay rates in rural communities without fluoride and those with fluoride.”
Madison resident Craig Adkins, an engineer, said the Netherlands, which does not fluoridate its water, has the lowest cavity rate of any country. He said while the U.S. and many other countries have seen a drop in cavities, he believes it has as much to do with “improved dental care” as well as anything, including fluoride.