WAYLAND — Pediatric dentist Leonard Carapezza of Wayland expressed his displeasure with the Wayland Board of Health at the board’s meeting on Monday night over a lack of notice of a cancelled discussion on water fluoridation.
According to Carapezza, a number of people were planning to attend the discussion, some of them even upending their vacations to do so.
“One person was in the car coming from Chatham when the agenda was suddenly changed,” he said.
In addition to local residents, Dr. Myron Allukian Jr., an associate professor at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, was expecting to travel from New Jersey to appear at the meeting when he was informed of the cancellation.
Chairman Thomas Klem responded that the agenda item was cancelled because he wanted to have a full complement of the board present for the discussion. Dr. Michael Bean had a family emergency and was unable to attend. Michael Wegerbauer was also absent because he had to be at a Board of Public Works meeting in the Town Building, though he indicated he would participate in the Board of Health meeting if summoned to cast a vote.
“He (Bean) is not the chairman of this board. You can run a meeting without Dr. Bean,” Carapezza asserted. “Is this the usual conduct of the board? I think you owe a public apology to the citizens of Wayland who were on their way.”
Klem said he would consider this and that such a cancellation was not a routine event.
Carapezza also took exception to Bean’s published column (“Misgivings about fluoride added to water”), which he said was based on “junk evidence and scientific fictions.”
“To me this is wasted energy. This is not an issue in Wayland. We want to know what’s going on here, not in China,” Carapezza said in apparent reference to a study cited at a public hearing on the matter two weeks ago. “I would be happy to instruct any of you in how to view research.”
In response to the board’s disappointment that only a handful of people showed up at an earlier meeting discussion of fluoridation, Carapezza said this was because “the general public is accepting fluoride as a major public health benefit. If a practice like mine only sees a 5 percent cavity rate, why would this be an issue? I’m here to protect the kids of Wayland. And Dr. Bean’s place is to represent the concerns of the citizens of Wayland, not his own.”
Klem said that he had also taken fluoride in municipal water for granted, until Bean brought it up as a matter of interest.
Board member Cynthia Hill said the board was currently discussing a number of issues related to water – not just fluoride – but sodium and chlorine as well. “This is where we’re coming from.”
Dr. Elisabeth Brewer noted the board had several options in front of it – no action, reducing the level of fluoride in the town’s water, eliminating fluoride altogether, or taking the issue to Town Meeting.
“It is my desire,” Carapezza countered, “that before you take any action, you get the right input from the experts in the field. Don’t just say ‘let’s reduce the fluoride level’ because one individual on the board has an agenda based on questionable research.”
Wayland’s public water supply has been fluoridated since 2000, at a current level of 1.0 milligrams per liter. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has recently proposed changing the recommended level of community fluoridation to 0.7 milligrams per liter in view of the many sources of fluoride now available in widely used dental products.
The Board of Health expects to continue its discussion of the issue in August.