Thirty-six years after fluoride was mandated to be added to all public water supplies in Minnesota, people continue to debate its safety.
The chemical is said to strengthen teeth and prevent tooth decay. But a Sauk Rapids man has taken it upon himself, as the state representative of an anti-fluoride organization, to campaign to remove the chemical from municipal water.
Jason Krueger has given speeches to organizations, spoken with legislators and had letters to the editor appear in publications around Minnesota, including the St. Cloud Times.
He believes fluoride is “a forced medication,” and has been trying to get it removed from municipal water supplies for more than a year. He said he spends 10-12 hours per week on fluoride.
Does Krueger drink city water with fluoride? No — his home has a well.
Federal officials and many major health organizations have proclaimed fluoride safe and effective at preventing tooth decay, but dissenters remain.
Krueger is the Minnesota representative of the Fluoride Action Network — “an international coalition seeking to broaden public awareness about the toxicity of fluoride compounds and the health impacts of current fluoride exposures,” according to its Web site.
The network is sponsoring the second Citizens’ Conference on Fluoride beginning July 28 in Canton, N.Y.
A March report from the National Research Council is giving Krueger ammunition for his fight. It said that high levels of fluoride can cause tooth and bone damage for people who live in communities where high fluoride levels occur naturally.
In the United States, more than 160 million people drink water with fluoride added to it. About 200,000 people drink water with high naturally occurring fluoride levels.
But it’s still a prevalent belief that fluoride is beneficial.
“Fluoride in the city water is the cheapest and most effective way of providing fluoride supplementation to children who are at the greatest risk,” said Elaina Lee, a pediatrician at St. Cloud Medical Group.
Fluoride’s benefits were discovered in the 1930s when it was found that people with fluoride occurring naturally in their water had low tooth decay, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Lee said cavities are five time more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever.
“Much debate? Not in my world,” Lee said. “Fluoride doesn’t seem to be too controversial when it comes to parents.”
Some parents disagree.
Emilie Greenwell, a St. Cloud resident and member of the Holistic Moms Network, said she uses a process at home that removes fluoride from her drinking water.
Krueger gave a talk about fluoride to the Holistic Moms Network, a group for parents who want information about alternative parenting methods and lifestyles. It tackles topics from using vinegar as a household cleaner to whether to vaccinate children.
“I was convinced before Jason talked to us,” Greenwell said.
She said she has written letters to the Minnesota Department of Health and state officials protesting fluoride.