This is the second of three articles taking a look at some of the warrant articles to be considered at this year’s Town Meeting, scheduled to start Sunday, April 12, at 1 p.m. at Concord-Carlisle Regional High School.
Voters at Town Meeting will be asked to weigh in on a debate over fluoride in the town’s drinking water and whether Concord should take a piece of contaminated land that still requires millions of dollars in environmental cleanup costs.
Shelley Morss is the driving force behind Article 34, which calls for a ban on fluoride in Concord’s public drinking water. She cites numerous scientific studies that connect fluoride to dangerous health consequences — though other officials, including Concord’s health director, dispute those claims and say fluoride is safe.
Morss traces her interest in fluoride back to the 1950s, when she was focused on healthy nutrition for her children. She started questioning the motives of Dr. Frederick Stare, the founding chairman of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health, who said there was little connection between what Americans eat and their health.
Morss believes Stare was closely tied to sugar companies, and supported fluoride to protect those companies from a link between sugar and tooth decay.
“The humiliation suffered by those who disagreed with Dr. Stare was so long-lasting and pervasive that people who would otherwise be open-minded are still afraid to speak up,” Morss stated.
Morss also cites several publications in support of her effort. One is “The Lancet Neurology” that identified fluoride as a neurotoxin that could be connected to a rise in neurodevelopmental disabilities, including autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia.
Another document, “Why EPA Headquarters Union of Scientists Opposes Fluoridation,” which represents the position of some EPA employees, said “opposition to drinking water fluoridation has grown, based on the scientific literature documenting the increasingly out-of-control exposures to fluoride, the lack of benefit to dental health from ingestion of fluoride and the hazards to human health from such ingestion. These hazards include acute toxic hazard, such as to people with impaired kidney function, as well as chronic toxic hazards of gene mutations, cancer, reproductive effects, neurotoxicity, bone pathology and dental fluorosis.”
Susan Rask, Concord’s public health director, disagrees with Morss’ position.
“There is every reason to believe that fluoride is safe and effective,” Rask said.
Rask points to several sources that support fluoride, including “Fluoridation Update 2014” by Dr. Myron Allukian, president of the Massachusetts Coalition for Oral Health.
Allukian’s report, which appeared in the Journal of the Massachusetts Dental Society, stated, “The public is being misled daily on the Internet. Anti-fluoridationists continue to mislead, misinform and scare with poorly done studies or misrepresented results of studies done by reputable individuals, organizations or institutions.”
“I’ve heard these same arguments (against fluoride) over and over again. It’s like the people who said the Earth was flat,” Allukian said. “It’s junk science, it’s ridiculous.”
As for concerns about Stare, Allukian said, “I knew Dr. Stare. He wasn’t even involved in the initial epidemiological studies that prove fluoride is safe and effective. He was not bought off by sugar and fast food.”
Allukian testified at Town Meeting in 1969 when Concord approved fluoride, and he cited statistics to support it -– more than 100 reputable health organizations and 3,000 studies say it’s safe and effective. Among them is the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which states, “The safety of fluoride in drinking water at levels recommended for preventing tooth decay has been affirmed by numerous scientific and professional groups. Scientists have found a lack of evidence to show an association between water fluoridation and a negative impact on people, plants or animals.”
Approximately 210 million Americans, representing 74 percent of the population, including 29 of the top 30 U.S. cities, have fluoride in their public drinking water, and 4 million people in 140 Massachusetts communities have fluoridated drinking water.
Morss hopes to remove Concord from the list of those 140. Even if her article is approved at Town Meeting, she still needs final approval from the ’s Board of Health, which leaves the door open for more debate. She said she’s in this fight for the long haul.
“It’s time to turn off the (fluoride) spigot,” she said.
2229 Main St.
Voters at the special Town Meeting Tuesday, April 14, will be asked to give selectmen permission to take 46 acres of contaminated land…