Citing concerns over compelling residents to take “something they don’t want in their body,” the Alpena, Michigan City Council voted 5-0 to end fluoridation at its December 19 meeting.
“We are required by the government to provide safe and clean drinking water, so I will be on the side of eliminating the fluoride,” said Mayor Matt Waligora, according to a report in The Alpena News December 20.
Mayor Pro Tem Cindy Johnson said she didn’t feel comfortable forcing people to consume something they don’t want in their body, according to the report.
Alpena is a city of 10,000 located at the northern end of Thunder Bay on Lake Huron. The City will end fluoridation on May 1, after its fluoride supply is exhausted.
The Veolia Utility Manager for the city noted that only a small amount of the fluoride is consumed, so most of the chemical is wasted.
Sabine Winton, the Western Australia Early Childhood Education Minister, has disavowed comments she made while a candidate for office in 2017 that questioned the legitimacy of water fluoridation.
“I’m not convinced from my own personal experience. So I do understand the science on it and the work that’s been done is very, very dated and we haven’t had more recent work done on what necessarily the impact of fluoride is,” said Winton when running for a seat in parliament five years ago, according to a report in The Western Australian December 15.
“I think it’s time it is revisited, that we do ask those questions so that we have the most up-to-date science to do it,” said Winton, a teacher for 27 years and mother of three.
“So I actually have a personal experience of it and I’m a bit like you, I’m unsure whether we actually need it or not,” she said in response to a question from the audience during a debate in 2017.
Winton was recently appointed the first Minister of Early Childhood Education in Western Australia, a position that covers early childhood education in addition to child protection, prevention of family and domestic violence and community services. Criticism of her past questioning of fluoridation came from the Liberal Party leader David Honey.
Winton explained her “backflip,” as the news report called it, by noting, “Those comments were from before I was elected.”
The Fluoride Action Network’s lawsuit against the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to regulate fluoride in drinking water under the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) is opening the door to other groups to file similar complaints against EPA, according to Inside TSCA.
In a report November 21 on several environmental groups’ effort to require EPA to regulate polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) the newsletter notes that use of TSCA Section 21 provisions is becoming more common.
“If EPA rejects the groups’ requests, it could face another in what is becoming a growing list of lawsuits over TSCA petition denials since Congress overhauled the toxics law in 2016. While the reform did not change the language of section 21, petitions have become more common, and groups have so far sued the agency over its responses at least thrice, in cases where they sought testing for perfluorinated chemicals, data on asbestos imports and a ban on drinking water fluoridation, respectively,” reads the Inside TSCA report November 21.
The environmental groups are seeking testing of the polyvinyl alcohol (PVA or PVOH) films used in dishwashing and laundry detergent pods. According to the report the petition “is sparking a fight with industry on whether the material is as biodegradable as manufacturers claim, with petitioners seeking to remove them from EPA’s Safer Choice program as toxic.”
The groups’ November 15 petition asks EPA to “require health and environmental safety tests of [PVA], as it is used as a plastic film in consumer-packaged goods and used in all dishwasher and laundry pods and sheets. This petition also requests that PVA be removed from the Safer Choice List and Safer Chemical Ingredients List until the EPA can complete the requested health and environmental safety testing,” according to the report.
The petition was brought by Plastic Pollution Coalition, Beyond Plastics, Plastic Oceans International, Turtle Island Restoration Network, Friends of the Earth, Surfrider and green-labeling firm Made Safe, among others, and the direct-to-consumer personal care and cleaner maker Blueland, according to Inside TSCA.
Millions of New Zealanders go without dental care because of high prices and a national shortage of dentists. A group of medical professionals sees the problem, and is calling for sweeping changes.
“A new report, produced by the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS), is calling for a raft of changes in the industry, saying dental care is prohibitively expensive, under-supplied and feeds directly into overall health inequity. Ultimately, it wants free care for all Kiwis,” according to a news story in Aukland’s The Sunday Star-Times November 13.
New Zealand or Aotearoa [its Maori name] recorded the highest unmet need for adult dental care among 11 comparable countries in 2020, reported the paper.
The paper notes that the average trip to the dentist cost $353, “representing about 50 per cent of an adult minimum-wage earner’s weekly income”, and that “an average dental visit is $120 more than the median weekly rent for a room in a flat.”
Highlighting the shortage of dentists, the paper references “Hawke’s Bay where the 9,000 residents of Wairoa have been without a dental service since early 2020.”
South Canterbury dentist Fraser Dunbar says adults often come to the emergency department having taken tools to their own teeth, the paper reported.
While the news report makes note of several possible remedies including “a dental workforce plan ensuring services are fairly distributed nationally, locating dental services alongside other primary providers and implementing a sugar tax,” it makes no mention of water fluoridation.
Seeking to overcome the divergence of studies on the adverse effects of fluoride on reproductive tissues, a team of dental researchers and toxicologists from the University of Belgrade have set out to propose a benchmark level of fluoride that can be expected to harm testicles.
“Given that individuals are daily and often unconsciously exposed to fluoride, novel investigations regarding its toxicity mechanisms,” at the dose-response level are desirable, they write in a recent issue of Environmental Pollution.
Their effort is the first attempt where the dose-response methodology is applied to evaluate fluoride toxicity in testicle tissue, according to the authors.
They note that acute/chronic fluoride exposure may have an impact on reproductive function, and that results from endemic fluorosis regions in India and Canada indicated pathological pregnancy outcomes, including fetal malformations and miscarriages and correlation between fluoride-excess and reduced IQ scores in young children.
“Declined fertility has also been noticed among the male individuals from fluorosis endemic areas”, along with a positive correlation between fluoride serum level and subfertility occurrence, they write.
Chronic fluoride exposure at elevated concentrations could provoke oxidative stress and DNA damage, as well as the impairment of testicular tissue, spermatozoa, and hormonal status in experimental animals. Additionally, elevated fluoride concentrations might cause a disbalance of essential elements, such as calcium (Ca), zinc (Zn), iron (Fe), according to the authors.
“Fluoride exposure at various concentrations could modify the structure, regulation, and expression of reproductive chromosomes, revealing toxic outcomes and prominent concerns,” they write.
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