GREEN BAY – A local mom is among several individuals and advocacy groups petitioning the federal government — and local leaders — to ban the practice of putting fluoride in drinking water.
Municipalities have been adding fluoride to drinking water for decades in an effort to prevent tooth decay, but critics say it may cause other serious health problems, including IQ loss.
The groups and individuals who petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency argue that fluoride’s benefits come from topical contact with teeth, not ingestion, and adding it to drinking water “represents the very type of unreasonable risk that EPA is duly authorized to prohibit.”
Brenda Staudenmeier, one of the petitioners and a Green Bay resident, likened the practice of fluoridating water to swallowing sunscreen lotion to protect against sunburn.
“This isn’t solving the real problem of why we have tooth decay, which is sugar,” Staudenmeier said.
Nancy Quirk, the general manager of the water utility, said she will continue to follow the recommendations of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and other health agencies that suggest using fluoride.
“I look to the health community for guidance on this,” she said.
The CDC says the safety and effectiveness of water fluoridation has been re-evaluated frequently, and no credible evidence exists linking fluoride with any of the health problems cited by critics. The federal health agency credits fluoride in water for significantly reducing tooth decay and heralds it as a “classic example” of community-based public health intervention.
“Community water fluoridation is founded in scientific studies … There really aren’t any reputable organizations from the medical or dental fields that oppose water fluoridation,” said Matt Crespin, associate director of the Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin.
The advocacy group Fluoride Action Network claims new research shows fluoride in water is ineffective at preventing cavities and may be linked to thyroid problems, hinder brain development in children and increase the risk of bone cancer in young males.
The Fluoride Action Network is one of six organizations that signed the petition to the EPA. Others include the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, Food and Water Watch, International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, Moms Against Fluoridation and Organic Consumers Association.
Five individuals from across the U.S., including Staudenmaier, also signed the petition.
Staudenmeier said she has been asking the Green Bay Water Utility and Green Bay City Council to stop adding fluoride to the local water supply for years. She hopes the recent petition will prompt the City Council to overturn a decades-old resolution ordering the use of fluoride in city water.