SOUTH YARMOUTH — In sometimes heated testimony last night, residents gave the Yarmouth Board of Health angry opposition to consider before making a decision on fluoridating town water.
“I would like to know who is going to prescribe this drug to me,” said Alan Amirault of Yarmouthport. “I’m absolutely outraged,” he said, adding that he was “fed up” with being lied to by all levels of government including Yarmouth’s board of selectmen.
The public hearing was the last in a series that began with a call by Selectman William Marasco that the town consider fluoridation.
The board of health heard earlier from nonresident advocates on both sides of the debate over whether to fluoridate the water.
Amirault was among a strong majority who stood in opposition to fluoridation, and after the hearing he was one of the first to sign on to a proposed civil suit against the town should it happen.
He was not alone, as row after row of residents demanded the board vote against fluoridation.
Should the panel vote affirmatively there would be a 90-day waiting period, and if a petition is signed by 10 percent of the town’s registered voters, the question would go to a townwide referendum.
Some attendees considered the entire debate a waste of time.
The board of health should focus on other problems such as obesity in young children, said Tom Kelley of South Yarmouth.
“Get the Pepsi-Cola and the Coca-Cola machines out of the schools,” Kelley said, pumping his fist and drawing applause from the crowd of approximately 50 attendees.
Other opponents to fluoridation listed a plethora of reasons against adding the chemical to town water, including potential health problems and the financial impact on water ratepayers.
Much of the United States has fluoridated water, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not documented any increase in illness in those places where fluoride is added to the water, said Peter Leband, a retired dentist from South Yarmouth and one of a small group who spoke in favor of fluoridation. “The one thing that has happened in all the fluoridated communities is that the cavities have gone down,” he said.
The board of health is waiting for a cost assessment by the superintendent of the water department before making its decision, said board member Patrick McDermott.
That figure is expected in the first week of June, and the board should be in position to make a decision by their June 18 meeting, he said.
The major argument for fluoridation was questioned by Laurie Trzcinski of South Yarmouth, who said her family was among the lower-income groups who fluoridation proponents said would most benefit from adding the compound to town water.
Her son is chemically sensitive to fluoride, and the addition of fluoride to the water he drinks could make him very ill, she said.
“I deserve the right to make a choice as to what can be given to my son,” she said.
No town on Cape Cod now treats its water with fluoride.
In the United States 170 million people drink fluoridated water in 10,000 communities. Statewide, 139 communities fluoridate their water.
Patrick Cassidy can be reached at email@example.com.