Not fluoridating its water supports South Blount Utility District’s mission of providing the “safest, cleanest and purest” water to its customers, a study found.
Gary McGill of McGill Associates presented to the board Tuesday the findings of his firm’s fluoride literature review and a draft of a “mailer” that could be sent to the district’s customers. The board decided to review the draft and make comments on it at next month’s meeting.
McGill noted fluoride is a “polarizing” issue and said he came to the conclusion by evaluating information by authors with credentials, particularly those in the “scientific, academic and research world.” He added authors with credentials were in the minority when it came to fluoride literature.
“So long as there is uncertainty about risk from fluoridation, some people will not want to accept that risk, and others who favor fluoridation will demand proof of harm beyond a reasonable doubt before they reject it,” McGill read from an Aug. 1, 1988, special report by Chemical and Engineering News, an article he said he found unbiased.
“`A scientific assessment cannot say what degree of adverse effects is acceptable in return for the expected benefits … Those decisions are value judgments, and scientists’ values are no better than everyone else’s.”’
McGill said the board already stated its values by getting its water from the most pristine source it could find and by applying the best technology to it.
“If your values are to provide the safest, cleanest and purest water, you have to decide whether fluoride fits into that,” he said, suggesting the board ask medical professionals — but not practicing doctors or dentists — if they want to see more medical research.
“My opinion is that until you get that and feel like you have digested it, I’m not so sure you should change your values at this point,” McGill said.
Rex Ogle Jr., a customer who collected 300 signatures in support of fluoridation, told the board an opinion from McGill Associates is not what the board asked for when it voted in February to pay the firm to $2,400 to conduct the study. He asked to see the draft and left after receiving no answer from the board, calling his fight for fluoride “an uphill battle.”
“I’m checking alternatives to get the board recalled or removed,” he said on his way out. “You are not doing for the community; you are doing for personal reasons.”
After Ogle left, board vice president Virginia Morton said the draft should be shared with the public, but stressed that it is just a draft.
“It may not even say what we want it to say,” she said.
In an e-mail sent after the meeting, Blount County Health Department Director Micky Roberts challenged the study’s conclusions.
“I think consumers should call for being shown the `more objective review’ methodology and/or process and who deemed what was `more credible scientific information,”’ he wrote.
“There is no credible evidence that fluoride causes these problems at 1 (part per million) or what is recommended. So then the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Dental Association, the Tennessee Department of Health, the East Tennessee Regional Health Office and the Blount County Health Department — are none credible?”