Fluoride Action Network

Marin Voice: MMWD should look at the costs of fluoridation

Source: Marin Independent Journal | November 30th, 2015 | By Ginger Souders-Mason and Dawna Gallagher-Stroeh

It doesn’t matter whether you are for water fluoridation or not. If the fluoridating chemical used by Marin Municipal Water District does not have safety studies for ingestion the practice should end immediately. Since the 1972 and 1978 votes of the public to fluoridate, a great deal of scientific proof of potential harm and lack of safety has been published.

MMWD passed in 2007 the precautionary principle which “requires the selection of the alternative that presents the least potential threat to human health and the environment.” It further states … “and as new scientific data become available, the district will review its decisions and will make adjustments when warranted.”

Most importantly, it incorporates a “right to know” clause, that “the community has a right to know complete and accurate information on potential human health and environmental impacts associated with the selection of products, services, operations or plans. The burden to supply this information lies with the proponent, not the general public.”

For years, local residents have asked publicly and in writing for the scientific proof of the safety of ingestion. MMWD has still not provided that proof.

Under the precautionary principle the fluoridation should halt until this evidence is provided.

Times have changed. Those concerned residents who have requested this information are no longer considered fringe. They are parents, doctors, dentists and anyone concerned about their health.

This simple request to halt fluoridation until proof of safety is provided seems obvious.

On the Nov. 20 broadcast of the PBS radio program “Living on Earth,” Professor Stephen Peckham, a researcher at the University of Kent, reported on his research which linked hypothyroidism to water fluoridation. The program further stated, “the Cochrane Collaboration, a global network of doctors and researchers who analyze science to improve public health, suggests the evidence is not so clear. The group found earlier this year that only three studies since 1975 have established credible links between fluoridated water and cavity prevention.”

Professor Peckham further stated, “Their main conclusions were that there was no evidence to suggest that it reduced inequalities in dental health, that there was no evidence to support that it had a positive effect on adult teeth, and that there was no evidence to suggest that if you stopped water fluoridation, levels of decay would increase.”

But MMWD’s legal counsel Mary Casey feels that under AB 733, the 1995 state mandate to fluoridate, they cannot stop fluoridating for any reason.

However, Marin County voted to have safe water, not water fluoridated with hydrofluorosilicic acid (HFSA).

The state mandate also states, “no ratepayer money is to be used.”

However, the payment for this chemical comes directly out of the MMWD’s general fund. Furthermore, there are no state penalties for stopping fluoridation.

Santa Barbara did so in 2000 and Novato has never fluoridated its water.

Currently MMWD is planning to increase our water rates.

Dietrich Stroeh, a former MMWD general manager (and husband of one of the authors of this column), stated: “High replacement costs were incurred to the feed equipment and delivery mains when the corrosive material — HFSA — gets fed into the water. Also there are additional chemicals that must be added to adjust the pH of the acid.”

Couldn’t the $200,000 or more spent on the chemicals, additional maintenance due to the corrosive nature of the acid, and the additional funds needed to keep the hazardous materials trained-person on payroll be eliminated, perhaps lowering the need for such a large increase?

Is the only remedy left for the people to go to the ballot?

It doesn’t matter whether you are for water fluoridation or not, everyone should want to know that their water is safe to ingest.

We sincerely hope MMWD will do the right thing and provide the requested studies or halt the fluoridation until we have them.

Ginger Souders-Mason of Kentfield is the director of Pesticide Free Zone and Dawna Gallagher-Stroeh of Novato is director of Clean Water Sonoma-Marin. For more information, visit cleanwatersonomamarin.org.