Editor’s note: This commentary is by Kathleen Krevetski, of Rutland City, who is a registered nurse and a longtime volunteer grassroots community activist.

On Tuesday, March 1, voters in Rutland City and Proctor will decide whether or not to continue water fluoridation. There are grassroots efforts to remove the chemical fluorosilicic acid from our drinking water. Then we can move on.

Fluoridationists led by the American Dental Association wrongly call this manmade chemical natural. Fluorosilicic acid, is a hazardous waste harvested from the smokestacks of the fertilizer industry and never meant for human consumption. How fluorosilicic acid is metabolized in the body is very different from calcium fluoride found naturally in our ecosystem. Many of us, including Vermont dentists, were not aware that this water contaminant was being used to fluoridate water. Calling fluorosilicic acid fluoride appears to be an attempt to whitewash this toxic chemical as safe for public consumption.

Public drinking water is a basic human right and the FDA calls fluoride a drug. To drug our municipal water with a hazardous waste product to benefit “poor children” when kidney patients, children, diabetics, seniors and the chronically ill are “susceptible sub populations” (EPA quote) who are vulnerable to harm from ingesting this poison. We should never have allowed a drug in our drinking water in unregulated dosage without informed consent. The EPA has acknowledged that fluoride does not work by putting it in our water. Both sides in this debate promote fluoridated toothpaste, good diet and dental hygiene, and regular visits to the dentists.

The public health precautionary principle essentially says to err on the side of caution and has not been considered with fluoridation. “When in doubt, take it out.” For the Vermont Dental Society to promote the use of fluorosilicic acid by calling it fluoride is disingenuous at best and a recipe for failure that can contribute to the loss of the patients’ trust in their dentists. The Vermont Department of Health also continues to ignore the precautionary principle of public health in the use of fluorosilicic acid which can leach lead into water.

Our volunteer efforts to end fluoridation have received no outside funding as we work to stop the addition of this toxic “drug” to the water of Rutland City. Erin Brockovich is against fluoridation of water and has submitted a legal notice of accountability to the Institute of Medicine/National Academy of Sciences and the Food and Nutrition Board. For explanation, see here.

The Cochrane Collaboration, internationally acknowledged as the gold standard in evidenced-based reviews of health science, also confirms the doubts over the benefits of fluoridating water supplies.

The EPA lists fluoride as a neurotoxin. The U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) is presently looking at fluoride’s adverse effects on the developing brain. Because fluoride affects the brain, the NTP plans to conduct new animal studies to determine the lowest dose at which this damage occurs. NTP will also be doing systematic review of all the existing scientific literature which includes 314 studies that have investigated fluoride’s effects on the brain and nervous system which include 181 animal studies, 112 human studies, and 21 cell studies to date. Our health community must take a holistic approach and look beyond the teeth when we add drugs to our water.