SHREWSBURY – An article that would have discontinued the 62-year practice of fluoridating the local water supply was soundly defeated by town meeting Wednesday night.
Bryan Moss, who petitioned the article, said the Food and Drug Administration has never approved fluoride for ingestion. Ingestion of the chemical, he said, is linked to hyper-thyroidism, low IQ and ADHD.
Michael F. Dolan, faculty member at UMass Amherst, who has a Ph.D. in biology, who spoke on behalf of Mr. Moss, said fluoride causes dental fluorosis, which damages teeth. He said there are reports that 41 percent of young teenagers show signs of chronic fluoride poisoning, which costs thousands of dollars to repair. Fluoride, a neurotoxin, also causes children to suffer a lower IQ, he said.
“The chemical we’re adding to water to protect teeth is damaging teeth,” he said. “It’s high time that it be re-evaluated.”
No town meeting member spoke in favor of the article. The town’s water supply is treated with 0.7 parts per million of fluoride. The previous level was 1 ppm.
Dr. B. Dale Magee, a Precinct 5 member, said fluoridation is considered one of the top 10 success stories in the U.S. He said children’s whole bodies are healthier when their teeth are healthy. He suggested that residents rely on the recommendation of the health experts, including the local Board of Health.
Dr. Maria Narducci, chairman of the Board of Health, said there is no clear evidence that fluoride is not safe.
“Every major medical organization in the country is on board that fluoride is safe. Tooth decay in children is the most common chronic illness in kids,” she said.
Town meeting also addressed several zoning bylaw changes, including approval of an amendment that opens local farmers markets to artisans within a 60-mile radius.
Town meeting on Monday added the new position of deputy fire chief to the job classification plan. Wednesday night, town meeting voted to authorize selectmen to petition the Legislature to exempt the position from Civil Service. Town Manager Daniel Morgado said the action will allow the town to advertise broadly and hire the best qualified.
Among other articles approved by town meeting were several that provided funding for water and sewer-related projects, including an ongoing water meter replacement project, improvement of water lines on Oakland Avenue and Main Street, and an infiltration and inflow program to keep groundwater out of the sewer system.