Eureka Springs residents are facing a July 15 start date for fluoridation throughout the Carroll Boone Water District because despite opposition from customers in Eureka Springs, CBWD board members said they felt they had no choice but to comply with a mandate passed by the state legislature in 2011.
But several rural water districts in the state have flat out refused to add fluoride to their drinking water, including the Ozark Mountain Regional Public Water Authority.
“Our board is not intimidated by the health department,” Andy Anderson, chair of OMRPWA, said. “This is a non-paid position that takes up 80 percent of my time. If the health department has me removed, then I will devote all of that time to overturning Act 197 that mandated districts with more than 5,000 customers fluoridate. They are not going to shut me up if they cause me to lose my non-paying job.”
The OMRPWA, ironically, was formed in part to help rural water districts in the area with dangerously high levels of fluoride in groundwater. Anderson said to these districts, it makes no sense to add fluoride when they were previously mandated by the health department to reduce toxic levels of fluoride.
“We had several systems that were under an administrative order because of fluoride contamination,” Anderson said. “That is when I first started looking at the health problems fluoride causes. The state said we had to reduce fluoride levels, so we had 18 smaller water districts band together to get water out of the lake without fluoride. Then the state comes back and says, ‘Well, you have to put fluoride in your water because you provide water to more than 5,000 customers.’”
The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and dental groups tout fluoridation as a way to prevent cavities in children. Opponents have concerns about the increasing body of scientific evidence that links fluoridation to decreased IQs and ADHD in children, thyroid problems and dementia.
In June, representatives from ADH attended an OMRPWA board meeting, and representatives from 17 of the 18 entities stood in solidarity against fluoridation. Some threatened to drop out and go back on their wells if they are forced to fluoridate. Others said they wouldn’t pay their water bills if they get unwanted chemical contamination.
“Not a one of these 18 entities want anything to do with it,” Anderson said. “They have been told over and over the dangers of fluoride, and now that it has been mandated by the legislature, it is now a good thing?”
OMRPWA has appealed to Gov. Asa Hutchinson to remove the district from the fluoride mandate on grounds that the authority is treated by the health department as 18 individual entities for everything else, such as monitoring and reporting activities.
“But when it comes to fluoride, they want to call us one district,” Anderson said. “Before we joined together to get fluoride free water, none of the water districts served more than 5,000 people. So none would have been affected by the mandate.”
Another reason the district opposes the mandate is cost. While a grant from Delta Dental Foundation is paying for the equipment, that doesn’t cover the cost of chemicals and monitoring. The OMRPWA is financially troubled, Anderson said, and currently having to do major repairs because heavy rainfall damaged pipelines.
“Financially, we are not stable because of all of those issues,” Anderson said. “We asked the health department for a six-month delay and then revisit the issue, and they agreed to that. They have never encountered as many objections as they have encountered here.”
There are concerns that if these districts located in the Buffalo River watershed are forced to fluoridate, most of the fluoride will end up in the Buffalo River where there are concerns about it damaging aquatic life. Reviews of scientific literature published on PubMed.gov indicate “fluoride toxicity to aquatic invertebrates and fishes increases with increasing fluoride concentration, exposure time and water temperature.”
“About 99.95 percent of our water is not consumed by people,” Anderson said. “It is all flushed down the drain and goes into the Buffalo River. I don’t know why the environmental people aren’t involved in this. In Madison County, 85 percent of the water is used in poultry industry. The fluoride is going into the meat of birds. While some meat is sold locally, a lot goes to foreign countries. One of these countries that has banned fluoride will wake up someday and say, ‘We aren’t going to buy this meat with fluoride in it.’ Chicken producers need to be up in arms about this.”
Anderson said new reports are coming out all the time about the buildup of fluoride in food, and the harm over fluoridation is doing to health. CDC studies have shown 41 percent of children in the U.S. have teeth damaged by too much fluoride causing dental fluorosis.
Anderson said he believes one of the reasons U.S. residents have some of the worst health of any first world country is because of 70 years of fluoridation. But he said it is a difficult battle to fight because so much money is behind fluoridation as a convenient way for the phosphate fertilizer industry to get paid for selling toxic waste rather than having to pay to treat it.
“People should know the truth, that fluoride being put in water is not pharmaceutical fluoride, but an industrial waste byproduct,” Anderson said. “This isn’t natural fluoride, which is calcium fluoride, but sodium fluoride that is very caustic. You can’t store it in a container made out of concrete, metal or glass. It eats concrete, metal and glass. Anything that caustic should not go in our water. The other thing is it damages the equipment so you are going pay to repair equipment regularly. It is a hazardous material. You must wear hazmat suits to deal with it.”
Anderson, in an email to opponents of fluoridation in Eureka Springs, said it is unfortunate that the CBWD and other large water districts agreed to fluoridate even though they didn’t want to.
“If some of the larger systems had stuck together, we could have easily reversed course,” he said. “We have only four systems in the state that have not knuckled under. Marion County, Madison County, Watson Chapel, and us.”
*Original article online at http://www.eurekaspringsindependent.com/single_story.asp?StoryID=9652