BROCKTON – Another road block is stopping the Brockton Board of Health from putting fluoride into the city’s drinking water, in a saga that has stretched back nearly 45 years.
City Board of Health member Craig Andrade seemed shocked that the cost of establishing a fluoridation system for Brockton’s drinking water had increased tenfold from the originally expected price.
Brockton Executive Health Officer Louis Tartaglia spoke about the issue with the three-member Board of Health during its monthly public meeting held on Tuesday afternoon at City Hall, stating that the cost of starting a system to inject fluoride into the drinking water would be $800,000. The originally expected cost was $80,000, Andrade said.
“That’s a surprising jump,” Andrade said.
The additional cost includes construction of buildings needed to house the fluoridation equipment, Tartaglia said.
Andrade said a grant to the city to start a fluoride system was offered by the DentaQuest Foundation and the offer still stands, as part of the nonprofit’s initiative to promote oral health in children. But Andrade said that a breakdown of the costs and a plan of action needs to be submitted to the nonprofit. Originally, the Board of Health planned to use a state grant.
Either way, Tartaglia said the overall costs that are not covered by the grant would be too high for Brockton to consider, arguing that the Board of Health should not submit a proposal to the DentaQuest Foundation.
“We couldn’t even start to give them a proposal because the city has no money,” Tartaglia said.
Andrade pushed back on that, continuing to speak about reaching “the next step” in the process toward fluoridated water, which the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says is the most cost-effective way of delivering fluoride, claiming that it reduces tooth decay by 25 percent in children and adults.
During the discussion, several members of the audience spoke up, including one man who urged the Board of Health to consider using calcium fluoride instead of sodium fluoride.
Brockton resident Lisa Lamme spoke out and vowed to stop the city from fluoridating the water, calling it a poison that causes Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. Lamme said she is not a conspiracy theorist about the matter, and believes that the Board of Health is genuinely trying to help low-income children with oral health problems. But she said that some studies disprove the health benefits of fluoridating the water supply.
“It’s a toxin,” Lamme said. “We have a civil right to say no to mandatory mass medication. … When in doubt, leave it out.”
Lamme also noted that the Board of Health order to fluoridate the water, which is published on the city’s website, states that the body voted on November 3 last year to bring the water supply to a fluoride level of 7 parts per million. The CDC has recommended one-tenth of that, 0.7 parts per million, Lamme said.
Andrade told her that the fluoride discussion did not allow for public input.
Tartaglia told Lamme that the 90 days to appeal the Board of Health vote through a petition and ballot referendum has passed. But Lamme said she and others would find another way to stop the fluoridation plan.
The Brockton Board of Health first voted in 1972 to fluoridate the water, but has failed to implement the measure.
The Board of Health voted to meet with a representative of the Brockton Water Commission, the head of the Department of Public Works and other city officials to discuss the matter in the future. The next meeting of the Brockton Board of Health was scheduled for December 6.