WINSTED — The town’s water department has issued a survey to its 2,500 users, asking whether they still want their drinking water treated with fluoride. Users started receiving the postcards in the mail early this week, with a return deadline of Sept. 1.
One of the recipients was Selectman Jack Bourque (JJB06098@yahoo.com). He said at Monday’s board meeting that this was the first time he had heard that water officials were discussing this topic.
He said the mailer included no scientific information about the effects of fluoride, or whether there are any cost benefits by stopping it or any other reason. He said he thinks the survey is “inappropriate,” as the commission has not held any hearings or had any well-publicized discussions about it.
He pointed out that Chief Water Filtration Plant Operator Jeffrey Rines (firstname.lastname@example.org ) told the Water and Sewer Commission in July that he learned from a water conference he attended in June that fluoride treatment ranks 7th out of the top 10 health advances in the U.S.; that it helps with corrosion control by raising the pH level, a measurement of the water’s acidity; and that its removal would change the overall makeup of the water, and require another additive to help prevent the corrosion of pipes.
The state Department of Public Health does not require the Water Department to add fluoride to the water from Crystal Lake, the town’s [JUMP]reservoir, because its population of approximately 10,000 people falls well short of the minimum requirement.
State law began requiring fluoridation for communities of 50,000 and up in 1965, and for communities between 20,000 and 49,999 in 1967.
Public Works Director James Rollins (email@example.com)
said the town started adding fluoride to the water around 1996 when the Crystal Lake water treatment plant was built.
“Local doctors and dentists advocated for fluoridation to be part of the treatment process,” he said.
While the town is not required to add fluoride, it would still need the permission of the state health department to stop using it, state health department spokesman Christopher Boyle said.
Rollins said the town currently spends $17,000 per year for fluoride.
Bourque said while the selectmen have no authority over the Water and Sewer Commission, which oversees the water and sewer departments, he thinks the selectmen should speak out on the commission spending money for the postcards, which included an enclosed prepaid, stamped card with a return address. The total cost of ordering and mailing the postcards was $3,245, Finance Director Ann Marie Rheault said. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
“I think it’s a bad precedent and I’m totally against it,” Bourque said of the survey. “The fact that the commission is conducting this ‘nonbinding’ poll to determine whether there is consensus is just improperly done.”
Water and Sewer Commission member George Closson said the survey is simply a question to give commission members an idea of where users stand on the issue. He said medical professionals favor keeping the fluoride in the water “because anything that can help you, you don’t want to do away with, and it is very inexpensive overall to do it.”
But he said two other commission members feel there is not a need for the fluoride because it is in so many other products, like toothpaste and mouthwash. As for himself, Closson said he has to do more research.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, scientists have proven that fluoride prevents tooth decay. In 1945, Grand Rapids, Michigan, became the first city in the U.S. to add fluoride to its water. In 2020, nearly 73% of the U.S. served by community water systems had access to fluoridated water.
But according to a 2016 report in Harvard Health Magazine, there is mounting evidence that in the era of fluoridated toothpastes and other consumer products that boost dental health, “the potential risks from consuming fluoridated water may outweigh the benefits for some individuals. Last summer, for the first time in 53 years, the U.S. Public Health Service lowered its recommended levels of fluoride in drinking water.”
Most of the scientific studies on fluoride that were conducted before 1975 focused primarily on its effectiveness on children, and did not take into account the widespread use of fluoride-containing products, the report said. Fluoride itself may be dangerous at high levels.
“Excessive fluoride causes fluorosis — changes in tooth enamel that range from barely-noticeable white spots to stain and pitting,” the report stated. “Fluoride can also become concentrated in bone, stimulating bone cell growth, altering the tissue’s structure and weakening the skeleton.”
High levels of fluoride may also be toxic to the brain and nerve cells, the magazine reported. Studies have identified possible links to learning, memory and cognition deficits.
According to the state public health department, many public water systems keep their level of fluoride as low as state law allows so that it prevents tooth decay “while reducing the chance of children receiving too much.”
Boyle said the optimal fluoride level was last lowered in 2016 at the recommendation of the federal Department of Health and Human Services due to the use of other fluoride products.
*Original full-text article online at: https://www.rep-am.com/localnews/2023/08/13/this-ct-towns-residents-are-being-asked-if-they-still-want-water-treated-with-fluoride/