City council candidate condemns fluoridation of water

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK, Managing Editor

May 8, 2008 - A candidate for the Sulphur Springs City Council took the floor at Tuesday's regular meeting to condemn adding flourid to the city's water supply, calling the chemical "extremely toxic" and the practice of flouridation a "violation of moral law."

Charles Oxford, who is running against incument Place 7 Councilwoman Yvonne Porter-Williams in Saturday's City Council election, approached the podium when council members took up bids for water treatment plant chemicals.

Oxford, who moved to the area about 18 months ago, requested that a decision on the bid for the chemical fluoride be delayed -- "I'd rather it be deleted," he said -- until next month.

The movement to add fluoride to public water supplies, which began in the middle of the last century, was started as a stated effort to improve public dental health. It came following studies indicating people who drank water containing naturally occuring fluoride showed better dental health than those who didn't.

Oxford told the council, decision to add fluoride to public water supplies was a mistake and suggested there has been an ongoing cover-up of studies indicating that fluoride does not improve dental health but instead is a danger to humans.

"Flouridation was a misguided, hysterical panacea in the 1950s," Oxford said.

He said the fluoride used in public water systems actually causes "yellowing and browning of teeth," and is "extremely toxic." He also indicated fluoride is nuclear waste product that has never been approved for human consumption by the Environmental Protection Agency. Oxford also told the council that humans received enough flouride from other sources, and forcing people to ingest more through fluoridation of the water amounts to a violation of moral law.

Oxford's comments echo a number of other voices that have long protested the addition of fluoride to public water supplies.

Three years ago, representatives of 11 EPA employee unions called for a halt on fluoridation programs and asked the agency to recognize the chemical as a possible cancer risk. The request came after a Harvard professor -- who was also paid by Colgate to work on a quarterly newsletter on dental health -- was accused of covering up evidence of a study that showed a possible link between fluoridation and an elevated risk of a certain kind of cancer in boys. More than 1,000 health industry professionals, including doctors, dentists, scientists and researchers, have also signed an online petition to Congress asking for an end to water fluoridation.

But fluoridation has more supporters than detractors, and supporters say those who oppose it are misguided, misinformed and paranoid.

The EPA has not taken any steps to oppose fluoridation, however, and the professor was cleared by a Harvard panel studying the allegations. Others have questioned the results of the study in question, saying the results were inconclusive and didn't demonstrate any clear link between fluoridation and cancer.

The federal government's top center for health studies definitely does not side with the anti-fluoridation movement.. The Centers for Disease Control's web page on fluoridation includes a statement at the top that omakes no bones about where it stands

"Community water fluoridation is safe and effective in preventing tooth decay, and has been identified by CDC as one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century," the statement says.

According to a CDC database, the city of Sulphur Springs has employed fluoridation since 1967, stating, "This water system adjusts the natural fluoride concentration upward to the optimal level for the prevention of dental [cavities]." The optimal fluoride concentration is set at 0.80 parts per million.

Most water supply systems in Hopkins County also used water containing fluoride.

City Council members ultimately decided neither to support nor oppose Oxford's points. Instead, Councilman Clay Walker asked Craig Vaughn and Robert Lee, the longtime overseers of the water treatment plant, if the city is required to purchase fluoride if the bids were approved. Vaughn and Lee said the contract would not force the city to purchase the chemical, and that the city has an adequate supply on hand for now.

Council members ultimately voted to approve the bids for chemicals with no dissenting votes.

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