Do the risks of adding sodium fluoride to the town’s water source outweigh the benefits?
This is something the Scituate Board of Health said they would be looking into over the next few weeks after listening to concerns from a resident during their April 22 meeting.
Sheryl G. Fitzgerald addressed the board on Monday and pointed to results from research reports she had looked into that state water fluoridation is hazardous to human health.
“As a resident and a parent I feel that this information should be shared,” she said.
Fitzgerald said published studies have indicated that there is a considerable link between water fluoridation and health issues such as genetic anomalies, cancer and heart disease.
“It has been found out that sodium fluoride is not a nice product,” she said, adding that fluorides are used in rat poison.
In the past, the idea of fluoridating the water was well embraced by doctors, dentists, and parents, Fitzgerald said.
“We all grew up with it,” she said. “Everyone just accepted it.”
Water fluoridation began in the United States in the 1940s as a means to prevent tooth decay.
Fitzgerald said that Scituate Town Meeting approved water fluoridation in 1954, and that the water supply has been fluoridated ever since.
“There was not a lot of research about sodium fluoride at that time,” Fitzgerald said. “But since then, there has been a lot of research that has come to light.”
In addition to the negative health affects Fitzgerald said are associated with sodium fluoride in water sources, she also said that studies have indicated the chemical is responsible for increased pipe corrosion.
“Fluoride will stick to all metals,” she said.
Members of the board of health, along with Public Health Director Jennifer Sullivan, all agreed it was time to revisit the necessity of water fluoridation in town.
“I think it is an issue we need to address,” said board member Frank Lynch. “Is there still a health benefit, and if there isn’t, it’s a no-brainer, and why are we still putting it in our water?”
Sullivan said sometimes “something we think is good turns out to be bad” and that the need for water fluoridation in Scituate should be looked into.
“It’s like putting medicine in the water,” she said. “Do we want to do this anymore?”
According to Fitzgerald, surrounding towns such as Marshfield, Norwell and Hanover have all discontinued fluoridating their water supplies as research continues to show the practice contributes to health issues. She said Hingham, Cohasset and Hull, like Scituate, continue to add sodium fluoride to their water.
“I want us to be healthy, happy people,” she said, adding that she no longer drinks tap water, and that even her dog drinks water from a bottle.
Board of Health Chairman Russell Clark said he was aware that water fluoridation is a “debatable issue.”
“But it’s definitely worth looking into,” he said.
Clark said he would like to bring in members of the medical and/or dental community to discuss any positive benefits of continued water fluoridation.