PORTSMOUTH — A pair of N.H. lawmakers have sponsored a bill that would require municipalities to send notice to residents about the fluoridation of their drinking water.
The legislation, known as House Bill 312, was scheduled to be heard by the House Health and Human Services Committee at 1 p.m. today in Concord.
Sponsored by Rep. Lars Christiansen, R-Hudson, and Rep. Kathy Souza, R-Manchester, the legislation would require “public water systems which provide fluoridation to place a warning on all billing statements against fluoride-treated water for infants under the age of 12 months.”
If a public water supply contains fluoride, warning notices would be posted on all water system billing statements.
The statement would read: “Your public water supply is fluoridated. When feeding infants under 12 months of age, the American Dental Association and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that liquid concentrate or powdered infant formula be mixed with water that is fluoride-free. Consult your health care provider for more information.”
The bill also stipulates that the warning notice be located in a “conspicuous and prominent place” on all billing statements and appear on a contrasting background.
Each letter in the warning notice would also have to be in at least 10-point font, according to the proposed legislation.
If passed, the act would take effect 30 days after its passage.
Local resident Rick Horowitz, who has been fighting for a “Fluoride Free Portsmouth” for the past several months said the bill is important on two fronts.
“First, it will provide critically needed information to parents, and second, it is a foot in the door, so to speak, giving everyone in fluoridated towns a heads up that fluoride may not be all that ‘safe and effective,'” he said.
Horowitz said he became interested in the subject of fluoridated water and its effects on the human body not long after his daughter was born.
“Very few parents — including my wife and I when our daughter was born four years ago — know anything about fluoride being a potential hazard for infants,” he said. “When I discovered this fluoride issue when she was about 1 year old, I was extremely disturbed by what I had learned.”
Not long after learning the effects fluoride could have on his daughter, Horowitz said he began to use bottled water and was more aware of how he used water from the tap. But, Horowitz said, he was still concerned about the awareness in the community.
“I’d bet that very few know of this possible health hazard to their babies,” he said. “What about low-income parents, who can’t afford bottled water or the expensive filtration equipment needed to remove the fluoride from the water?”
Since then, Horowitz has launched www.fluoridefreeportsmouth.com and even approached the city, asking it to launch a study on the effects of fluoridated water.
Despite the City Council’s denial of his request to study fluoride, Horowitz continued his push for awareness.
Recently, Horowitz said he felt vindicated after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, released a report recommending municipalities reduce the amount of fluoride in the drinking water.
The report, which found two in five children in America show signs of fluoride poisoning, also recommended reducing fluoride to 0.7 parts per million per from the previous recommended upper limit of 1.2 parts per million.
The city introduced fluoride in the public water system in the 1970s. The city’s water treatment process, which consists of a series of steps at a plant in Madbury and a variety of wells throughout the Seacoast, covers the communities of Madbury, Newington, Portsmouth, Greenland, Rye and New Castle.
According to Deputy Public Works Director David Allen, fluoride is added to the public water system at a measurement of one part per million.
That is all expected to change in the near future. Not long after the recommendation was handed down from federal regulators, Allen said the city would look to reduce its dosage of fluoride.
While it is unclear if in fact the city has followed through on the recommendations, Horowitz said he has been in contact with legislators and has submitted his comments as testimony.
Recently, the state Department of Health and Human Services sent a memo to water department operators and staff concerning the new recommendations from federal regulators. N.H. Public Health Director Jose Montero announced DHHS support of the recommendations and called for an opportunity for public input on the changes before any final determination is made at the state level.
Public comment can be submitted to CWFComments@cdc.gov.
State health officials are expected to prepare final guidance for community water fluoridation by this spring.
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