Is utility-supplied water in Dayton and Rhea County tainted with a harmful chemical that is damaging residents’ teeth and internal organs?
According to a practicing physician serving in the Tennessee legislature, all fluoridated drinking water, which includes water provided by some utilities in Dayton and Rhea County, is harmful to humans, especially infants and young children.
Dr. Joey Hensley, who has served in the legislature since 2003, sent a letter on Dec. 4 to hundreds of water districts throughout the state warning them about fluoridated water and advising them that they should no longer add the cavity-fighting chemical to the water.
In the letter Hensley states, “information is now coming out showing that the health risks associated with drinking fluoridated water significantly outweigh fluoride’s limited cavity fighting action. Water fluoridation is medication added to water…. Giving an unmeasured amount of fluoride through drinking water and not monitoring people’s response to it makes no sense at all and violates fundamental principles of toxicology, pharmacology, and ethics.”
He then cites a recent report from the National Research Council that states, “infants and young children are receiving 3-4 times the dose of fluoride as do adults on a body weight basis.”
The American Dental Association, Hensley notes, “last month quietly issued a new recommendation that infant milk formula not be mixed with fluoridated city water.”
Also in his letter, he states that “the Centers for Disease Control last year admitted that 32 percent of school-age kids have some form of dental fluorosis.”
According to Daniel Stockin, former manager of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Western Regional Lead Training Center, “Dental fluorosis is an outer, visible biomarker of a poisoning that is occurring internally, akin to the bluish line that appears in the gums of people poisoned by lead.”
Stockin is currently employed at The Lillie Center Inc. in Brentwood, Tenn., and is working with Hensley in his campaign to eliminate fluoride in drinking water.
The Herald-News contacted a few local dentist offices to see if they had encountered evidence of dental fluorisis but none of the dentists would comment.
One office did, however, say it had seen some patients with dental fluorosis.
Mike Patrick, chief operator of the Dayton Water Treatment Plant, said he had not received a letter from Hensley but had read a copy of it on the Internet.
The Herald-News received a copy of the letter via email from The Lillie Center in Brentwood, Tenn.
Patrick said he had not heard of any medical problems in Dayton or any other city caused by fluoridated drinking water, but he did note that the Dialysis Clinic Inc. “filters it out of their water.”
Woody Evans, City Manager in Spring City, said he had received the letter from Hensley and had asked Greer Harris at the Spring City Water Filter Plant to stop adding fluoride to the water on Jan. 1.
The letter he received, he said, has a long list of water districts that have already stopped adding fluoride to their water.
“I don’t think we need to be drinking anything we don’t have to,” Evans said.
According to Tisha Calabrese-Benton, deputy communications director for the Tennessee Dept. of Environment and Conservation, Watts Bar and Graysville water utilities have not been adding fluoride to their water.
Although neither state nor federal governments require fluoride to be added to water supplies, the state of Tennessee does have guidelines for utilities that choose to do so. Patrick said the state requires a rate of 0.9-1.3 parts (gallons) of fluoride per million gallons of water.
Dayton’s fluoride-water ratio, he noted, averages 1.0-1.1 per month, and in November, 70 million gallons of fluoridated water were used by local residents.
Stockin said the problem with fluoride in the short term is not the amount of fluoride in the water but the “dose that is ingested by the person.”
Dose, he explained, “is the total amount you get and how it impacts your body.”
What is “really disturbing,” he said, is that “infants, on a body weight basis, are getting three to four times the amount of fluoride that adults are getting … and is potentially harmful.”
But in the long term it can harm adults, Stockin said, explaining that “fluoride is a cumulative poison … a little less than half of all the fluoride you’ve ever ingested in your life is still somewhere in your body.”
After a few decades of this, he said, you can “wake up some day with some sort of disease.”
Stockin said that the issue of fluoride in drinking water “is going to dwarf tobacco in terms of lawsuits.”