Pinellas County Commissioners will vote on whether to again introduce fluoride into the water supply. I posed 5 questions our commissioners based on a recent Harvard study that suggests ingesting fluoride can lower children's IQ.
Here are the questions and responses:
1. Since there are many potential risks with the ingesting of fluoride in developing children, should we consider a warning label with the use of public water?
Commissioner Roche: I believe our responsibility is to assure that we provide safe, clean drinking water to our county residents. I would prefer that we avoid having to put warning labels on our public drinking water supply, by simply avoiding introducing any after-the-fact additive into our drinking water that would require a warning label – be it medical, dental, nutritional, or otherwise.
2. How many of the residents who are the target of this proposed health benefit will actually receive the fluoride in their water and how do you prevent the over fluoridation occurring in those children who drink large amounts of the water coupled with fluoride in other sources resulting in fluorosis?
Commissioner Roche: Our county system provides drinking water to approximately 700,000 Pinellas County residents. I believe the best way to avoid ingesting too much fluoride, and the potential negative impacts of that, is to avoid putting it into our drinking water altogether. I believe that an individual’s dental care decisions and monitoring are best left to the relationship between the individual and his/her dental professional.
3. If residents do not trust their water supply, such as parents of infants who cannot use fluoridated water in their baby's formula, what environmental burden does this place on our natural springs and the amount of plastic used in bottled water?
Commissioner Roche: That's an excellent question, and I’m sorry to say that my answer may be a bit redundant. But again, the best way to avoid this is to leave the individual’s and/or families fluoridation requirement decisions to the relationship between the individual/family and their dental professional – and not to the County and our drinking water supply.
4. Have studies been completed showing alternative solutions such as increased development in community dental clinics or delivering fluoridated tablets and/ or toothpaste to those in need to determine what is more effective in terms of cost, safety and application and does not affect who choose other health alternatives?
Commissioner Roche: The first two questions I asked at the beginning of last’s years Board meeting (10/04/2011), where it was decided to suspend the practice of adding additional levels of fluoride were:
- Of the Dental professionals present - Which is the best; ingesting fluoride (i.e.: drinking fluoridated water) or topical application (i.e.: brushing with fluoride toothpaste)?
- Of our County Water professionals - Do we know how much water from our public drinking water supply a resident actually drinks in a day?
I'm saddened to say that I have yet to receive an answer to either of those questions. There is a plethora of science on both sides of this issue. There is also an awful lot of misinformation available on both sides of the issue. Which is why my position has been the same since 2003/04 (when the practice began here in Pinellas). The science is not clear and the health related questions have not been answered. And in my opinion, the data that has been presented, simply isn’t good enough for this Commissioner nor our residents. Additionally, those most in need have full Medicare/Medicaid dental coverage. Unfortunately, there are only a few of our 630+ dentist in our county that will treat Medicare/Medicaid recipients.
5. Finally, since this is obviously a controversial topic with many people on both sides of the issue, would you consider putting this issue on a public referendum in order to allow the residents who will be affected directly have a direct say in this matter?
Commissioner Roche: Simply put; yes. In lieu of not engaging in the practice altogether that is. I actually presented a plan in that vein to my colleagues at last week’s meeting (see attached). Unfortunately, none of them seemed interested in putting this to a vote of the people. But I believe that our citizens – who own our drinking water system, finance its continuing operations and maintenance, and purchase and drink the water – absolutely have the right to vote on this very important issue.
The hearing on this issue will take place at 315 Court Street Clearwater, FL33756 at 2pm November 27, 2012. An on-line petition urging the commission to consider the health risks of adding fluoride can be found here.
What are your thoughts on this subject? Please comment here and also send your comments in to the commissioners directly by visiting their website for their contact info.
For those who are concerned with their water quality, you can search for water filtration systems in order to protect yourself and your family from foreign contaminants.