After hearing overwhelming opposition from residents, the Greenfield Board of Health has decided not to support community water fluoridation.
In October, the Community Health Center of Franklin County suggested the town consider adding fluoride to its public water after a dental hygienist found a significant amount of tooth decay and oral health problems in young children while visiting local schools. After hearings, though, the Board of Health decided there was significant opposition to “medication without consent” and “underwhelming” statistical evidence about the benefits. And then there was the cost, estimated at about $750,000. Not a potent mix of reasons to go forward with what is always a controversial idea.
The board relied heavily on information from the federal Centers for Disease Control, which found no severe harm from water fluoridation and that communities with water fluoridation had a 15 percent decrease in dental cavities.
And then the board discovered that at least two town businesses, Real Pickles and Artisan Beverage Cooperative, didn’t know how fluoride in the town’s water might impact their organic, all-natural food process.
We were glad the discussion didn’t devolve into a 1960s-era argument about communist plots. The health board listened to public comment and also drilled down into the data to see what the countervailing public good might be, and reached a reasoned conclusion based on the facts.