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Town debates use of fluoride in water

Town debates use of fluoride in water
Town debates use of fluoride in water
Hugh Burns, clerk-treasurer for the Town of Elizabeth, shares a thought with residents during Saturday's town council meeting at the Elizabeth Civic Center. Photos by Alan Stewart

More than 35 people packed into a room at the Elizabeth Civic Center Saturday morning to find out whether or not the Elizabeth Town Council would discontinue the practice of adding fluoride to the town’s water system.
The final result of the two-hour meeting ‘ which at times was chaotic with people talking over each other and people having multiple conversations at once ‘ was that the council agreed to take the matter under advisement and revisit it at a later date.
Recently, the town’s clerk-treasurer, Hugh Burns, told Danny Schroeder, senior environmentalist health specialist at the Harrison County Health Dept., that he and persons on the water board had decided to stop adding fluoride to the water supply, adding that it would take an act of Congress to stop him from doing so.
Burns never said at the meeting why he wanted fluoride removed from water. His only comments on the matter were that it was his opinion that it would have taken an act of Congress to not stop the practice, and that there were many cities and towns across the country that had voted to not have fluoride added to their water.
For Elizabeth, the cost of adding fluoride is between $4,000 to $5,000 a year.
Town council member Mike Sampson told the audience that Burns doesn’t speak for the board and the board had not made any decisions regarding the matter. Sampson also said that there are no current plans to discontinue adding fluoride.
Town council president Alan Worrall and Chris Fetz, the other council member, agreed.
‘It was something that was brought up in conversation, and it just blew up,’ Sampson said.
Most of those in attendance Saturday were against removing fluoride, but there were at least three who favored doing away with the practice.
Jane Ely, who moved to the Laconia area about six years ago from Carmel, questioned whether or not fluoride was truly beneficial to the human body.
Another woman claimed her teeth rotted from the inside out; she blamed it all on fluoride.
Elizabeth Water customer Jennifer Riley said the addition of fluoride benefits her family.
‘Not everyone can afford to go to the dentist, but they can afford to pay their water bill. My job as a parent is to protect my kids’ teeth, and, if I can do that by having them drink the water with fluoride, then that’s what I’m going to do,’ Riley said.
Tony Combs, the Harrison County Public Health coordinator, explained how hydrofluorosilicic acid is derived and its benefits for oral health.
‘Fluoride has been added to water systems over 50 years. It is one of most studied minerals out there because of a lot of these people who bring up claims,’ Combs said. ‘Over those 50 years of studies, if you look at the scientific and medically based studies, it has only shown to be a benefit to the body and not a detriment to the body.
‘All of those studies have shown that,’ he said. ‘There are pseudo-studies out there that claim otherwise, but those have been proven incorrect.’
New Salisbury dentist Dr. Kevin M. Pierson also was on hand to vouch for the benefits of fluoride.
Pierson noted that many areas that did away with or that do not add fluoride have enough naturally-occurring fluoride in the water that the addition is not necessary.
‘There are areas of this country that have four and five times natural fluoride of the recommended level, down in West Texas and New Mexico,’ Pierson said. ‘Those people do not have these weird mental defect side effects (as some reports claim). They do not get cavities, but the levels are so high they do have problems with their teeth. They are rough and discolored, but they are so hard they are like diamonds.
‘I’ve seen these stories of what harm it can do, a million times the level (of what’s recommended),’ he said. ‘Yeah, pure fluoride is toxic. It’s like hydrochloric acid. But 0.7 parts per million is what today’s research shows to be optimum. The wells down here are 0.1 parts per million.’
Israel Temple, who works at Louisville Water Co., named the best tasting water in the United States in 2013, and is a native of Elizabeth, offered to help the Elizabeth council learn more about water by taking them on a tour.
Louisville Water Co. has added fluoride to its water since 1951.
The Elizabeth Town Council meets the third Saturday of each month at 10 a.m.