One group asks voters to “Rethink what you drink.” Another asks, “Keep fluoride. Prevent tooth decay.” These two opposing messages both refer to the Nov. 8 local referendum asking, “Shall fluoride be added to the public water supply for the intended purposes of reducing tooth decay?”
Boothbay Region Water District has added fluoride since 2004 after voters approved it through a referendum vote. But two years ago, the Fluoride Opposition Group organized locally to educate residents about possible negative impacts of ingesting fluoride. FOC successfully lobbied the Boothbay and Southport select boards earlier this year to place a referendum question on the November ballot. Since two of the three water district members approved the referendum, Boothbay Harbor was obligated to place it on its municipal ballot.
On Oct. 13, FOC members Anna Christina Rogers and Stevie Hale hosted a public forum at Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library discussing how fluoride is made and research on negative impacts of ingesting fluoride. The FOC is a vocal opponent of adding fluoride into the drinking water supply. The group has described fluoride as a manmade product derived from the phosphate fertilizer industry. The FOC discovered research showing ingested fluoride produced skeletal fluorosis, which results in damaged joints and bones, and dental fluorosis, which results in faint white lines on the teeth.
The forum drew five residents. In her opening remarks, Rogers said the central point of her group’s effort is providing residents with a choice. “Public fluoridation removes all options to opt out. What chemicals and drugs put into my body should be my choice. This is something very important to me,” she said. “The purpose of today’s forum is clearing up misinformation on the internet and in recent letters to the Boothbay Register.”
One letter was submitted by 41 co-signers of past and present selectmen, doctors, dentists and residents supporting keeping fluoride in the drinking water. “We strongly urge all residents in the Boothbay Region Water District to vote ‘Yes’ to keep fluoride in our public water supply for the intended purpose of reducing tooth decay. Voting ‘Yes’ will continue the District’s 18-year-old practice of fluoridating our local drinking water. The Federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention calls drinking water fluoridation one of the top ten public health achievements of the 20th century. In study after study, fluoridated water has been shown to improve the dental health of all age groups, but most importantly, it protects the developing teeth of young children. Preventing dental decay in children can help prevent the development of significant diseases, such as tooth abscess and serious infections in other body organs, and it promotes better dental health throughout a person’s lifetime,” the Oct. 20 letter read.
Rogers disputed the letter’s assertion that fluoride added to the water supply occurred naturally. “The letter repeatedly stated it’s a natural mineral, and it already occurs in water,” she said. “I need to make a clarification. Fluorine is naturally occurring and found in groundwater. Adams Pond is surface water with no trace of sodium fluoride (a chemical found in fluorine). The fluoride put into our drinking water comes from phosphate fertilizer, a manmade toxic substance.”
Rogers further described fluoride as requiring water district employees to use special safety precautions in handling the substance. “This is a toxic substance. All you need to do is look at how the water district wears special protective equipment when handling it, and storing it in a secure location,” she said.
Sarah Foulger cosigned one of the letters supporting continuing fluoridation. She attended the forum to learn more about FOC’s proposal. “I’m here with an open mind, but I’m looking at it from a sociological point of view. I’m concerned about the rich getting richer and poor getting poorer. Without public fluoridation, poor kids won’t receive the benefits that rich kids will.”
But FOC doesn’t believe fluoridation is the main factor in proper dental hygiene. FOC had Stuart Cooper of Fluroide Action Network speak via Zoom conference supporting their position. Cooper lives in New Hampshire, but grew up in Bar Harbor. He supported FOC’s assertion that “topical” application of fluoride, such as toothpaste and mouthwash, provide better protection than ingestion.
“CDC (Center for Disease Control) data shows some very interesting trends. A state like Vermont is the second lowest fluoridated state, but has the second lowest dental decay. A state like Illinois has mandatory fluoridation, but has the worst dental decay rate,” he said.
Rogers believes diet plays a more important role in dental decay than fluoridation. “Look at what a kid eats. It’s starchy food like Goldfish and candy which coats their teeth with sugar causing their problems,” she said.
Rachel Townsend of Boothbay Harbor shared her past struggle with stomach problems. She had a colonoscopy and endoscopy at age 26 which showed her stomach lining had been “eaten out.” She recalled a doctor asking if “she ate limes.” Townsend responded no. “But once I switched to osmosis water, which isn’t fluoridated, I began to feel better,” Townsend said. “I have nothing to prove it, but after stopping drinking fluoridated water, I now feel 80% better.”
Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor and Southport voters will cast votes on a special local referendum ballot.
*Original full-text article online at: https://www.boothbayregister.com/article/anti-fluoridation-group-sponsors-forum-referendum-question/166614