Fluoride in city water supply sparks concerns

MARQUETTE — Health issues concerning the fluoridation of the city’s water were addressed by two Marquette residents Monday evening at the Marquette City Commission meeting.

During public comment, Melissa Brandt and Wellness Centre of Marquette Director Valerie Olson cited scientific articles and explained why they both believe the city should reconsider fluoridating its water supply system.

Fluoride is a corrosive pale yellow gas that’s highly reactive and found in soil, air, food and water. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, community water fluoridation has been identified as the most cost-effective method of delivering fluoride to all, reducing tooth decay by 25 percent in children and adults.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends a level of .7 milligrams per liter of fluoride in drinking water, which is the amount Marquette incorporates into its system to prevent tooth decay.

Although the additive is commonly associated with preventative measures, Olson said newer studies claim that fluoride is harmful when ingested over a period of time.

Olson, who initially addressed the commission at its Feb. 12 meeting, said she encourages her clients to drink water that’s “free of fluoride” because of its many “negative effects on the human body.”

“Since we can have a benefit to the teeth with topical application without the necessity of ingesting fluorosilicic acid, which has never had even one safety study done long-term to prove safety for ingestion by our children, our infants, pregnant women — to whom we know the fluoride passes through the placenta to the fetus — that’s not even disputable,” Olson said, adding that fluoride has never been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

A recent study conducted by the National Research Council for the Environmental Protective Agency identified a number of potential adverse effects from ingesting fluoride including cognitive impairment, hypothyroidism, dental and skeletal fluorisis, enzyme and electrolyte derangement and cancer.

Brandt, who was diagnosed with a thyroid disorder four years ago, said she doesn’t drink fluoridated water because of the correlation.

“I’ve chosen to stop drinking fluoridated water because I have researched and have found a lot of evidence that supports that fluoride can interfere with thyroid function,” Brandt said. “Currently I’m having to fill up jugs of water at my parents house in Harvey, which is extremely inconvenient because I moved to Marquette recently and so as a resident of Marquette I don’t feel like I should be doing that, I feel like I should have a choice.”

Mayor Dave Campana, who spent decades as a pharmacist, said he supports fluoride in a municipal water system 100 percent because it does the public a huge favor by preventing dental decay.

“I’ve worked 38 years as a pharmacist, more than 30 of them in Marquette County, eight years on west end in Ishpeming and the rest here in Marquette. I got to know every single dentist in the county and beyond that … and the prescribing habits,” Campana said at a February meeting. “In all this time I’ve never met or experienced a dentist that is anti-fluoride. In fact, they strongly advocated the presence of fluoridated water to prevent dental caries and growth of good enamel.”

Campana said people who grew up drinking well water were prescribed fluoride drops, chewables or tablets, and pregnant women, who also went without fluoridated water, were almost always given fluoride tabs by the OB/GYN doctors in the area.

“I believe fluoride in our drinking water is safe and effective and I believe the city is doing a great service to the community by providing this. We provide this at a cost of, I think, $20,000 or more a year. It’s cheap, preventive medicine,” Campana said. “It’s constantly monitored so there’s no over-supply of fluoride in the water. I have read studies by the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization and they are totally in favor of fluoride supplementation.”

According to the CDC, the U.S. has a national goal for 80 percent of Americans to have water with enough fluoride to prevent tooth decay by 2020 because of “beneficial purposes.”