By Becky Gillette
Local residents, including some have been opposing fluoridation of water supplies for more than 20 years, are buoyed by the recent passage of House Bill 1355, An Act To Provide Local Control Over Fluoride Levels In Water Systems. The bill passed the Arkansas House Feb. 19 with 60 voting “yea”, 34 voting “nay” and six not voting. The bill has now been sent to the Senate Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee. Unless it is passed out of that committee, it will not be voted on by the entire Senate and won’t become law.
Kit Shepperd, who is active with the local group Carroll County Citizens for Safe Drinking Water, said she would have preferred a bill that repealed the fluoride mandate.
“I think it needs to be more clear about what we can actually do, whether we will be able to cut it completely off,” Shepperd said. “That is what I would like to do. But at least they made a concession to at least let us have some say in what goes on instead of mandating it.”
Government research has shown 41 percent of adolescents in the U.S. are over-exposed to fluoride leading to a mottling of teeth called dental fluorosis. The fluorosis is just the outward sign of the harm being done to the brains of developing children, Shepperd said, pointing to a Harvard study has shown that fluoride is a neurotoxin that can harm children’s brains leading to decreased I.Q.
“Growing minds can’t grow the way they should when children are exposed to fluoride,” Shepperd said. “It harms their pineal gland. Fluoride is a poison. We don’t need fluoride to grow teeth, and we certainly don’t need anyone to put it in our water.” She also objects to fluoride on the grounds of improper governmental interference in people’s lives.
“This is a way for the government to take away our rights,” Shepperd said. “We are supposed to be free. We should have freedom to make our own decisions.”
Shepperd urged local residents to call the eight members of the Senate committee: Chair Sen. Senator Cecile Bledsoe, 479-636-2115, Rogers; Vice Chair Sen. Stephanie Flowers, 870-535-1032, Pine Bluff; Sen. John Cooper, 870-761-0130, Jonesboro; Sen. Scott Flippo, 870-421-3420 Bull Shoals; Sen.Keith Ingram, 870-735-9580, West Memphis; Sen. Missy Irvin, 870-740-9694, Mountain View, Sen. David J. Sanders, 501-682-6107, Little Rock and Sen. Stubblefield., 479-635-4314, Branch.
The statewide group Secure Arkansas has made overturning the fluoride mandate its number one legislative priority this year. In 2011 the legislature approved a bill requiring all water systems with more than 5,000 customers to fluoridate drinking water.
“Secure Arkansas wants to sincerely thank Rep. Jack Ladyman and all of the co-sponsors of HB 1355,” Secure Arkansas said in a message to members. “Also, a special thanks to all of the representatives who voted “yea” on the bill. Senators, it is in your ballpark now. Let’s not disappoint the people. We must get back to local control. Remember: this bill simply allows the addition of fluoride into our public drinking water systems to be controlled locally.”
The Eureka Springs Independent was unable to reach the chair of that committee, Sen. Cecile Bledsoe, Rogers, before deadline. Sen. Stephanie Flowers, the vice chair, Pine Bluff, said that she hasn’t looked at HB 1355 yet, but previously supported mandatory fluoridation.
“I understand it is a matter of health.” Flowers said. “I’m not a doctor. I depend on the experts to give me information. From all indications in the past, it was not something that is so harmful as some people like to allege. I will listen to the presentation before the public health committee and vote according.”
Flowers grew up in a city with fluoridated water, and said, “I don’t think my brain has been affected. You’ve got people who do studies, and they come up with opposing conclusions.”
Local Senator Bryan King said earlier in the session that he had little hope of overturning the mandate because there aren’t enough votes to get it out of the public health committee.
An important issue is whether or not overturning the mandate would turn off fluoride at the tap at Carroll Boone Water District (CBWD). CBWD accepted a $1.6 million grant from Delta Dental foundation for fluoridation equipment that would have to be repaid if the district decided not to fluoridate. The fluoridation was scheduled to begin early this year, but has been delayed due to back ordered equipment.
But there are also other efforts afoot to address the issue. A study published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health in April 2014 said the fluoridation products studied contained arsenic or arsenic in addition to lead, barium and “a surprising amount of aluminum.” The study concluded that such contaminant content creates a regulatory blind spot that jeopardizes any safe use of fluoride additives.
Fluoridation chemicals such as those chosen by CBWD contain lead, arsenic, barium and other toxics from the chemicals refined primarily from phosphate fertilizer waste. At the request of Carroll County Citizens for Safe Drinking Water, King has requested an Attorney General’s opinion on whether the state—which has a law forbidding adding lead to drinking water—can decide to enforce the fluoride mandate but not enforce the law regarding not adding lead—a potent neurotoxin—top water.
King’s request states:
“Is the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) responsible for ensuring that public water suppliers follow the rules and regulations pertaining to public water systems? If so, is the ADH responsible for deciding which rules and regulations are enforced?
“Is the ADH required by law to make sure that ALL rules and regulations are followed by the water operators?
“If the Arkansas Department of Health is not performing their job requirements by not enforcing all rules and regulations pertaining to their department, whose responsibility is it to hold them accountable to follow the law?
“Could legislators and residents of the State of Arkansas file a redress of grievances if all laws, rules, and regulations are not followed?
“Who is responsible for ensuring that the Arkansas Department of Health complies with the law and is performing protocol?”
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You may read Becky’s article online here, also.
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