Fluoride Action Network

Las Virgenes: Meeting on fluoride leaves a bad taste

Source: The Acorn (Agoura Hills) | September 25th, 2008 | By Stephanie Bertholdo

The Las Virgenes Municipal Water District (LVMWD) said it wants to close the debate on whether mandated water fluoridation in California is dangerous for consumers, but opponents of the additive have pledged to continue their battle to overturn the fluoridation law that became effective in the state almost a year ago.

The water district invited scientists, doctors, dentists and other experts to speak at a Sept. 9 public meeting that addressed the pros and cons of fluoride in drinking water.

LVMWD Board President Joseph Bowman said the Las Virgenes district reviewed more than 100 documents, studies and articles, including 38 pieces submitted by anti-fluoride groups.

The study that held the most sway with the board of directors is “Fluoridation Facts,” a 72-page report prepared by the American Dental Association in 2005 and supported by more than 100 national and international organizations, including the American Cancer Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Children’s Health Fund and the U.S. Public Health Service.

John Mundy, LVMWD general manager, gave an overview on the issue, noting that dentists, doctors, scientists and many agencies, including the American dental and medical associations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization, believe fluoridation has been among the greatest health advances in the past 60 years.

Jan Dougall, an environmental analyst for the local water district, said fluoridation was mandated when Assembly Bill 733 was signed into law in 1995. By 1997 the Metropolitan Water District, which supplies the local drinking water, found that having water fluoridated on a regional basis was more cost effective than having the substance injected into the water by local districts. In addition, the cost to remove fluoride from the local water supply using a reverse osmosis system could cost up to $200 million, said LVMWD Boardmember Lee Renger.

Conflicting studies

Calabasas resident Barbara Singer showed a video that had aired on a Tennessee news station questioning the safety of fluoridation.

Evidence of its toxicity can be found on tubes of toothpaste where a warning states that if a pea-sized amount of toothpaste is ingested, poison control should be called.

Ben Allanoff said the National Kidney Foundation suggests that people with impaired kidney function not use fluoride in any dosage.

“It makes a lot more sense for those who want it to take it rather than impose it on everyone,” Allanoff said.

Renger referred again to “Fluoridation Facts,” which says there’s no evidence to support the theory that fluoridation causes or worsens human kidney disease.

But Agoura Hills resident Joshua Lane and others said they were skeptical about the validity of the document.

Nicole Johnson, a member of Citizens for Safe Drinking Water, said water fluoridation causes skeletal fluorosis. Bowman said skeletal fluorosis is a rare condition associated with ingesting very high levels of fluoride over a long period of time. Only six cases have ever been reported in the United States, Bowman said.

Robert Singer, a Calabasas resident and member of the group Citizens for Safe Drinking Water believes he has hundreds of valid scientific studies to back up his stance against fluoride. He said studies have not proven that fluoride in tap water stops tooth decay. He urged directors to send a letter to the Metropolitan district asking for further reviews on the substance.

Malibou Lakeside resident Mary Altmann asked directors to read the book, “The Fluoride Deception.” She said water fluoridation was introduced as a means to protect corporate interests. According to Almann, industrial fluoride began harming consumers about 60 years ago and, to avoid lawsuits, companies such as Alcoa Inc., Reynolds Metals and other firms hired a publicity firm to promote fluoride as a health benefit.

Experts speak

Timothy Collins, dental director for the oral health program of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said fluoride “protects health and prevents disease.”

Every Surgeon General for the past 60 years has endorsed water fluoridation, Collins said.

Eugene Sekiguchi, a dentist and the associate dean for International, Professional and Legislative Affairs at USC’s School of Dentistry, said fluoride is the most cost effective and safest method to improve public health.

“It’s very clear that the benefits outweigh (any) health concerns,” said Dr. Steven McKane, chair of the Dental Health Foundation. “If you don’t have oral health, you don’t have overall health.” He dismissed the idea of a broad corporate conspiracy.

David Heumann of the Fluoride Advisory Council said there are seven different levels of protection against water contaminants. Drinking water is tested multiple times each day, Heumann said.

Other experts who spoke in favor of fluoride were Maritza Cabezas, a dentist working with Los Angeles County Department of Health Services; Dr. Jonathan Ziv, an Agoura Hills dentist; John Roth of the California Dental Association; and Dr. Joseph Sciarra, a pediatric dentist in Woodland Hills.

A motion by LVMWD Boardmember Charles Caspary to send a letter to Metropolitan asking for the agency to reconsider the use of fluoride was not seconded, which means the board of directors will not pursue any changes to the state mandate.

Singer said he and other antifluoride groups will present a rebuttal to fluroide at an upcoming water district meeting.

Because the Las Virgenes district does not fluoridate the local water supply, Mundy said he hopes Singer and others will focus their antifluoride efforts on the legislators in Sacramento.