Commentary by Daria Barazandeh
As a resident of Chapel Hill and consumer of OWASA water who is deeply concerned about the effects of the commonly accepted practice of putting a toxic chemical in our water supply known as hydrofluorosilicic acid, or more commonly called fluoride, I have launched a local movement to have it stopped. The FDA classifies fluoride as a drug when used to treat or prevent disease and when added to the water, it is being used with the belief that it will prevent tooth decay. What happened to informed consent? Do we not have the right to refuse medication? Is this ethical?
How do we all accept this practice as normal and healthy by simply believing that the US Public Health Service had our best interests at heart in 1950 when they gave it a rubber stamp after poorly run/faulty studies led them to believe that it would help reduce cavities? Many involved in getting the US Public Health Service to endorse water fluoridation, including Andrew Mellon and Oscar Ewing, had financial interests with ALCOA (the aluminum manufacturer) as they were trying to figure out what to do with the fluoride that was left over after the company processed aluminum. The CDC and ADA followed suit with their endorsements based on the Public Health Service and few have questioned this since. It is important to note that although they endorse the practice of water fluoridation, there is not one health agency monitoring the health effects of it, nor has there ever been a single, randomized controlled trial to demonstrate the effectiveness or safety of fluoride.
Many people believe that fluoride is “natural” so it must be okay to ingest it. But so is arsenic. And lead. Did you know that OWASA’s fluoride is a by-product of the phosphate fertilizer industry that has no safe way to dispose of it otherwise, since dumping it in lakes or on land kills all vegetation and animal life within a 100 mile radius? Some rationalize it with the thought that maybe it’s okay to drink since it’s in small doses. But the dose one gets is dependent upon how much water they drink and their size, as well as their overall physical health. As a grown woman, I am getting much less fluoride every day with my 8 glasses of water (I should be drinking) than my 4 year old who drinks water all day long.
It has taken grass roots efforts in municipalities and small towns around the country ever since the public started to become aware of the toxicity of what is being put in our water, to get town councils to pay attention to the mounting evidence that mass medicating 70% of the US population with fluoride in their drinking water not only does not help prevent cavities (the CDC has acknowledged that fluoride’s use is topical, not systemic), but causes serious damage to the thyroid, lowers IQ, is a known neurotoxin, and causes dental and bone fluorosis. Not to mention that it’s an infringement on our rights.
Since 2010, at least 220 municipalities have stopped fluoridating their water around the world. 97% of Western Europeans do not drink fluoridated water. When you look at a chart from the World Health Organization that tracks dental caries in developed countries in 12-year olds, whether they are drinking fluoridated water or not, the chart shows a sharp decline in all countries over time, causing one to conclude that the issue in reducing the rate of dental decay is about education and access to dental care.
In 2012, upon discovering I was drinking fluoridated water, I approached the OWASA board to request that they end this outdated practice and invited them to read some of the science and medical information available, including the book by chemist Dr. Paul Connett, “The Case Against Fluoride.” I also requested that Dr. Connett be invited to speak with them, as he does worldwide with other communities open to discussing this topic, even if it was via Skype. The OWASA board declined, stating that they didn’t have the technology to Skype someone in to a meeting. Upon leaving that meeting, a woman approached me in the lobby of Chapel Hill Town Hall saying, “They are lying to you. I am the AV person here and I have Skyped people in to their meetings many times. They just want to get rid of you.”
After many OWASA meetings, providing the members with countless articles and even a copy of the book for each, they said they would hold a fair debate with two professionals, OF THEIR CHOOSING, representing both sides of the issue. In the end, a meeting was held in May 2013; both professionals were pro-fluoridation and the board said we would continue this practice and no further discussion was welcome at their meetings. It was a sham of a debate. They stated they had spent one year discussing it and believed they gave it fair time and had not been convinced, but it was a set up from the start, with a pre-determined outcome.
On Feb 2, 2017 we had the fluoride overfeed incident, causing a water crisis in our community, bringing the overall issue of water fluoridation to light again. Several of those concerned in the community appeared at the OWASA board meetings immediately following and continue to do so. Every person from the public who has come to the meetings to speak about the subject has been in favor of removing fluoride from our water. The only people who have spoken in support of it are faculty and staff from the UNC Dental School, in addition to OWASA board members and staff. There is one member of the OWASA board, Yinka Ayankoya, who has gone on record as being against the practice of water fluoridation.
Our movement is growing, however, we need more public support in order to get the attention of the board to be able to effect change. Rather than placing the responsibility of proving there is danger in ingesting hydrofluorisilicic acid on the public and continuing to force it on us in the meantime, I challenge those in power to scientifically prove that water fluoridation causes no harm to the human body and significantly reduces tooth decay such that it is worth the risk.
If you are open and interested, I invite you to:
- do some real reading to educate yourself rather than just believing the government and corporate endorsements, dismissing the concerns without doing the research
- join us on Facebook at “FLUORIDE FREE CHAPEL HILL CARRBORO”
- sign our change.org online petition here
- get more information about this issue from fluoridealert.org
- join us at OWASA board meetings the fourth Thursday of each month at 7pm at the Chapel Hill Town Hall building where you can be one of the voices that is asking to be heard by petitioning the board to look at the facts with an open mind, rather than just repeating the same tired lines that have been repeated for decades
This is a local movement that needs your voice. Every voice matters.