A citizens group in Hastings claims to have collected enough signatures for a petition to establish safety criteria for any additives put into the city’s water, including fluoride.
Marvin “Butch” Hughes, local chapter organizer of Nebraskans for Safe Water, led the drive for two petitions that were delivered to City Hall Friday afternoon. Hughes said 2,500 signatures were collected and turned in for verification.
“Even people who didn’t agree with us were kind and respectful,” he said. “It was a wonderful experience to go out and visit with people.”
Hughes said time was the only thing stopping the group from obtaining more signatures, because the petition had to be turned into the city by Friday.
At least 2,150 signatures were required for the petitions to be allowed on the ballot.
According to Hughes, the next part of the petition process is for the Hastings City Council to decide whether to accept the petitions for the ballot and forward the signatures to the Adams County election commissioner for verification.
Hughes said putting the petitions to the ballot because it would allow Hastings to be the first community in the state to require specific information about fluorosilicic acid before it would be allowed in the water.
One ballot question would be, “Shall an ordinance establishing quality criteria for water additives intended to treat or prevent disease in humans, and requiring specific public disclosures for accountability, transparency, compliance with law, and conformance to industry standards, be added to the municipal code of the city of Hastings?”
“This is finally going to give the city of Hastings the tools it needs to keep it’s water clean and safe,” he said.
He said most people believe that the fluoride that would be added to the city’s water is the same type of fluoride that is found in toothpaste. Hughes said the fluorosilicic acid, which would be used to fluoridate the water, is not a pure form.
“The only place (fluorosilicic acid) is legal to go in the United States is into a municipal water supply or into a level one waste handling facility,” he said. “You can’t dump it in a river. You can’t dump it in a gutter.”
Even though fluorosilicic acid contains lead, mercury and arsenic, Hughes said officials ignore the health risks from the chemicals contained in fluorosilicic acid because it is being diluted. By only allowing a small amount of parts per million, Hughes said, officials will consider it safe, despite the cumulative effect of the contaminants.
“Their solution to pollution is dilution,” he said.
He also said that there has been no study conducted that shows proof of the benefits of drinking fluoridated water. He said fluoride treatments have been shown to provide health benefits, but none have been shown from fluoridated water being ingested.
Hughes said everyone involved is wanting to help the overall health of the community and all he is asking for is more information about the product that would be used to fluoridate the water.
“Here in Hastings we shouldn’t have to be monkey see, monkey do, just because somebody else is doing it,” he said.