Fluoride Action Network

LA water company takes 5 minutes for fluoride

Source: ENVIROBLOG (A project of Environmental Working Group) | August 9th, 2007 | By Bill Walker

On Aug. 20, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which supplies drinking water to Los Angeles, San Diego and four other counties, will be briefed on the health risks of water fluoridation. MWD is preparing to add fluoride to its supplies in October. Many cities in SoCal already add fluoride to their water after they get it from Met, but now they won’t have a choice.

MWD scheduled the briefing after EWG, the Fluoride Action Network and Citizens for Safe Drinking Water raised concerns that the utility’s 18 million customers should be fully informed about the new state of scientific thinking on fluoridation. In just a couple of years, concerns about fluoride in drinking water have gone from being considered a fringe issue to a mainstream debate, as new evidence has emerged about its health risks, which include an increase in a rare bone cancer among boys exposed to too much fluoride as infants.

Last year, a landmark National Research Council report pointed to a growing body of evidence that fluoride is also an endocrine disruptor. In response to the NRC report, the American Dental Association for the first time acknowledged that fluoride poses health risks, and issued an advisory warning parents who feed their infants formula reconstituted with fluoridated tap water that they should consider bottled water instead. This week, the Fluoride Action Network sent Congress a petition signed by 600 medical, public health and environmental professionals, urging a moratorium on fluoridation until more research to determine the level of risk.

Realistically, it appears certain that MWD will go ahead with its plan. But we’re pressing make sure that they undertake an aggressive and comprehensive public education campaign to inform their customers of the risks. So their agreement to hold the upcoming briefing is a good sign.

Or is it just lip service? Dr. Kathy Thiessen, one of the authors of the NRC report, is coming all the way from Tennessee to address the board. But MWD plans to allow her only 5 minutes for her presentation, followed by a 5-minute presentation from the State Health Department, which favors fluoridation.

This stinks. There is no way that the revolution in scientific thinking about fluoridation that has taken place in the last few years can be adequately discussed in 10 minutes. We’ve asked MWD if members of the board or staff could make time to meet with Dr. Thiessen outside the board meeting, but they’ve been noncommital. We’ve heard from some members of the public that their attempts to talk to someone at MWD about their concerns have also met with no response.

If you live in Southern California and can make it to the Aug. 20 meeting, members of the public are also allowed 3 minutes each to speak on any topic. The meeting begins at noon at MWD headquarters, 700 N. Alameda in downtown LA. In the meantime, if you want to let MWD know that you think they should spend more than 10 minutes considering a major public health decision that will affect 18 million people, send a message to General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger here.