A toxic waste product of aluminum and fertilizer factories, increases in the risk of hip fractures and bone cancer, lower IQs of children and lab animals and adverse affects to the human reproductive system.

Some would suggest the fluoride in the toothpaste that you use every morning could contribute to the these conditions.

One of those people is Dr. James Presley, a member of Friends United for a Safe Environment (FUSE) and a steadfast opponent of fluoridating Texarkana’s drinking water.

“I honestly believe that there is no decision maker in this city that wishes to harm any adult or child … but they simply do not know all the facts,” said Presley at a press conference held in downtown Texarkana on Wednesday morning.

Presley, along with other environmentalists and opponents of water fluoridation, encouraged citizens to learn the facts about fluoridation and then communicate their opinions to their city officials.

“The city of Texarkana, Ark., has already considered water fluoridation in 1986 and it was defeated by a public referendum by a vote of 3-2,” said Presley.

Presley also added the reason the city was reconsidering the issue was because of pressure from the Texas-side city government.

“The Texas side brought it up in 1986, too, and they tried to bully the Arkansas side to go along with it, but they said no, and decided to put it to a public vote, which was defeated … they’re just trying to do the same thing again,” he said.

However, Texarkana, Ark., City Manager Robert Wright dispelled any notion of pressure.

“The last time we considered the issue was almost 20 years ago … it’s true that the reason we are considering it is because the Texas side asked us to, but that’s because the nature of our water system,” said Wright. “If it’s an issue that will affect one side (of town), it’s a potential issue on the other side.”

The Texarkana, Ark., Board of Directors will conduct a public hearing on water fluoridation at their Aug. 5 meeting at which public comments on the issue will be welcomed.

Exactly one week later, the Texarkana, Texas, City Council, which is where the topic of fluoridation re-emerged, also will conduct a public hearing on the issue.

It was on the request of Ward 3 Council Member Christie Adams that city officials decided to revisit the issue.

“It’s something that I have been interested for quite some time now, in fact ever since I moved here,” said Adams, who moved to Texarkana in 1996.

Years later, when Adams was elected to the city council, she decided to raise the issue publicly.

“I have two children below the age of 4 and both their pediatrician and dentist agree that fluoridation would be a good thing,” she said. “I know there are studies out there that say that fluoride is toxic, and I believe that it is in excessive amounts but the ADA (American Dental Association) recommend that a certain parts per million of fluoride be added to drinking water, and (if this issue passes) we would certainly adhere to that.”

Opponents present at Wednesday’s press conference include members of FUSE, Citizens for Safe Water in Greater Texarkana, which was the organization that led the opposition to fluoridation in 1986, and Mothers Air Watch, who successfully campaigned against an Environmental Protection Agency plan to operate a hazardous waste incinerator at the Texarkana Wood Superfund Site.

The organizations plan to have representatives testify at both city public hearings.

One such opponent is Nell Bearden, a Texarkana, Ark., resident who has taught yoga and other natural healing practices for 29 years.

“I voted against fluoridation in 1986, and intend to do so again if it goes to public vote,” she said.

Whether there will be a referendum on the issue is another topic of contention, since neither city government is required to put the issue to public vote.

“Nationwide, 60 percent of the cities are defeating fluoridation,” said Oran Caudle, an environmentalist. “And when it’s put to public vote, 3 out of 4 cities are defeating the referendum.”