Skeptics and public health officials dueled over the issue of water fluoridation during Wednesday’s meeting of the Loveland Utility Commission, which last heard similar concerns in 2014.
The skeptics failed to sway the commission, however, which voted at the suggestion of Loveland Water and Power director Joe Bernosky to recommend the city continue its practice of water fluoridation.
An anti-fluoridation panel spoke first, led by Traudl Renner, whose comments before the City Council in October prompted the meeting. She argued that emerging science has called into question the safety of fluoridation, which Loveland has undertaken since 1954.
She cited a study that indicated fluoride could damage the immune system (a panelist supporting fluoridation qualified this by saying the quoted section considered very high doses of the element).
“Current concern need not be whether people get enough fluoride, it needs to be that people get too much,” Renner said. “The pandemic has made it clear: A robust immune system is the best defense against infection, and it increases the chance of survival, even in the presence of vaccinations.”
She also questioned the effectiveness of ingested fluoride in preventing tooth decay, which is the reason why communities such as Loveland introduce fluoride compounds into their water.
Renner and fellow anti-fluoride panelist Kathryn Jordan also brought up how accidents at water treatment facilities occasionally cause dangerous amounts of fluoride to be introduced into drinking water.
Joe Bernosky, director of Loveland Water and Power, later said he and water utilities manager Roger Berg were not aware of any such accidents having ever occurred in the city.
Jordan questioned the expense of programs such as Loveland’s, and asked why the city wouldn’t receive the chemical, which she said is the byproduct of certain industrial processes, for free.
“There appears to be some kind of arrangement between industry and government,” she said.
Chris Neurath, research director for the American Environmental Health Studies Project, said studies also suggest the element is neurotoxic and notably dangerous for pregnant women and young children.
Neurath’s characterization of multiple studies was challenged by fluoridation advocates, particularly pediatrician Patricia Braun and dentist William Bailey of the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus. The latter called water fluoridation an “ideal public health measure.”
“There’s nothing that you have to remember to do,” he said. “You don’t have to make an appointment. You don’t have to stand in line. You don’t have to go to the doctor. All you have to do is drink and use the water. It’s inexpensive. It helps tremendously with dental disease.”
“Community fluoridation is the most cost-effective and far-reaching strategy we have to prevent cavities,” Braun said, adding that tooth decay was the number one reason she saw children going into surgery.
Braun and Katya Mauritson, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s dental director, also spoke about the savings in medical expenses seen by communities that fluoridate their water, with Mauritson estimating that Loveland’s program saves residents more than $2 million in medical bills every year.
Commissioners voted unanimously to recommend the city keep up its water fluoridation program.
“I initially came in with the perception that I didn’t want to fluoridate our water anymore,” commissioner John Butler told the group. “After having listened to all of our participants, both pro and con, I think it’s important that we continue fluoridation of our water, not only for the benefit of our citizens, but for the benefit of everybody even associated with Loveland water.”
Don Cook and Bill Szmyd said they would be interested in regular updates on the science concerning the neurotoxicity of fluoride, but they too voted in favor.
Bernosky — who mentioned that the city’s program has been recognized by the CDPHE as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for quality — said he would be preparing a short memo summarizing the meeting for the City Council.
*Original article online at https://www.reporterherald.com/2021/03/24/panelists-duel-over-fluoridation-of-loveland-water-commission-votes-to-continue-program/