Topsfield resident Jeffy Demeter believes there is a toxin in the water—fluoride.
Demeter is part of a growing coalition of people in Massachusetts, and throughout the country, who are questioning the addition of fluoride to public water supplies. Fluoride has been in the Topsfield water supply since 1953, when Town Meeting voted to add it because of its oral health benefits. Today, the compound is still used topically by dental professionals, but Demeter likens it to a poison when ingested regularly.
Three years ago, she began learning about the possible negative effects of fluoride, and this summer she took action in her hometown.
“I thought, there’s no better time than now,” Demeter said. “This issue has to be decided by local governments. That’s how it got into the water, and that’s how we’re going to take it out.”
Demeter decided to petition for a Special Town Meeting to vote on whether to continue fluoridating the town’s water supply. She has collected more than 210 signatures over the course of the past few weeks, but said she has been mostly focused on educating people curious about fluoride.
“Some people don’t even realize it’s in our water,” she said. “I try to give them a basic overview and see how much they want to listen to.”
In addition to collecting signatures, Demeter came before the Topsfield Board of Health twice this summer to present her case against water fluoridation. Topsfield Health Agent John Coulon noted that Demeter’s presentations were thoughtful and professional, but that the Board of Health has chosen not to taken any action based on Demeter’s information.
“They remain interested in it as a subject,” Coulon said, “but at this time the board has decided to not take action.”
The board’s decision, Coulon said, is based on the fact that some of the claims against fluoridation “are documented with no more than anecdotal evidence.”
But for Demeter, the evidence is there.
“In Topsfield, the fluoride added is sodium fluoride,” she said, “which is a toxic byproduct of the aluminum industry in China and Japan.”
Sodium fluoride is linked to many health problems, Demeter added, including thyroid disease, bone cancer, and arthritis.
“Fluoride is a known toxic chemical, and the FDA classifies it as an unapproved drug,” she said. Fluoridated water has never been approved for safety or effectiveness by the FDA or the EPA, she added.
In terms of how much fluoride can do damage, Coulon said there’s no one answer. “It’s going to differ depending on the individual and the level of exposure,” he said.
Coulon agreed with Demeter that children, especially infants, would be much more susceptible to harmful effects of fluoride.