A fight against fluoride in city water

PORTSMOUTH — Rick Horowitz is fighting to make sure his community’s water supply is fluoride free.

Horowitz, a resident of Gates Street, plans to bring his fight to the City Council Monday night and is hoping his fellow community members will take notice.

The reasons to remove fluoride from the city’s drinking water, according to Horowitz, are many and involve the potential for major threats to the health of residents and, most importantly, their children.

“It’s poison,” Horowitz said.

The city has continued to introduce fluoride into the public water system since the 1970s. The decision was made following a referendum question on the Nov. 6, 1973, municipal ballot, according to city records.

The city’s water treatment process consists of a series of steps at a plant in Madbury that serves the communities of Madbury, Dover, Durham, Newington, Portsmouth, Greenland, Rye and New Castle. The process also takes place at the many city-owned wells that serve the various communities.

Among the final actions taken before the water is pumped into storage tanks and into the various communities is the inclusion of fluoride. According to Deputy Public Works Director David Allen, the inclusion of fluoride in the public water system equates to one-part-per-million and is a very common practice. Allen said the additive is most often used in the majority of public water systems for its dental benefits. The additive has also been vetted by various health organization and government health agencies, Allen said.

While the city maintains the fluoride is added to prevent tooth decay, Horowitz said its consequences are much more important than its preventative attributes. For Horowitz, the concern was raised several years ago when he welcomed his daughter into the world and began to learn the effects fluoride could have on her as she grew older.

Having researched the subject, Horowitz said he made the decision about two years ago to switch to bottled water for consumption and occasionally for cooking.

“Evidence is now clear that fluoride ingested through drinking water has been shown to have little to no positive effect on our teeth,” Horowitz said. He said the negative effects include reduced IQ, hyperactivity, increased risk of developing certain types of cancer and severe thyroid damage.

“Fluoridated water has been shown to have very serious health effects: quadrupled risk of bone cancer in teenage boys, damage to the thyroid and other organs, which could explain the explosion in hypothyroidism, which itself has been linked to heart disease, mental decline and other illnesses,” Horowitz said.

The argument advocating for the removal of fluoride in the water supply has risen to the national level. In 2007, more than 3,100 professionals, including 280-plus dentists, urged the U.S. Congress to stop water fluoridation citing scientific evidence that fluoridation, long promoted to fight tooth decay, is ineffective and has serious health risks.

In addition, 11 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency employee unions representing more than 7,000 environmental and public health professionals called for a moratorium on drinking water fluoridation programs across the country, and have asked EPA management to recognize fluoride as posing a serious risk of causing cancer in people.

Since 2008, approximately 80 communities across the country have rejected fluoridation. The CDC reports that 225 fewer communities adjusted for fluoride between 2006 and 2008.

Even Time magazine has issued a warning about the use of fluoride and included it as one of the “Top Ten Common Household Toxins.” The publication described fluoride as both “neurotoxic and potentially tumorigenic if swallowed.”

According to information provided by the Fluoride Action Network, fluoride can jeopardize health, even at low levels, and poses risks to the thyroid gland, diabetics, kidney patients, high water drinkers and can severely damage children’s teeth.

Horowitz said he also believes the fluoride added to the local water is not pharmaceutical grade medicine, but its distribution to consumers amounts to that of “forced medication.”

“It is industrial waste from phosphate fertilizer and aluminum production, often contaminated with lead, arsenic and other dangerous chemicals, and much of what is used in the United States is now imported from China,” Horowitz said.

Allen said the fluoride used in the city is actually required to come from the United States and is tested daily. “We test our water quality frequently and we do not have elevated levels of fluoride,” he said. “There is no sign of lead or arsenic coming from our fluoride.”

Because fluoride cannot be removed by regular water filters and filters that do remove fluoride are expensive and cause other potential health problems, Horowitz said the only other option is to try and convince the city to remove it all together. He’ll try and do that Monday night.

While his intent is to one day have it removed, Horowitz said he imagines the next logical step for the city would be to form a study group with experts who are able to argue both sides of the issue.

The process of having fluoride removed from public water can be found in state statute, according to City Attorney Bob Sullivan. In order to remove fluoride from the water, a written petition of the aggregate of 10 percent of the registered voters in all of the towns served by a water system would have to be submitted to the city within 90 days of a municipal election. If that is achieved, state statue mandates that the referendum question be placed on a town warrant or city ballot.

The process of removing fluoride would be simple from a technical point of view, Allen said. “It’s as simple as turning it off and getting rid of it and pulling the equipment out,” he said.

Mayor Tom Ferrini said he is aware of Horowitz’s request. As the head of the City Council, Ferrini said he expects the argument will be given due consideration.

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