(WITH POLL) Water Fluoridation in Hartland Township Washes Back Before Board
Supporters of the practice dominated November hearing, but the additive's main opponent to remains unswayed as the trustees revisit the issue Tuesday.
The Hartland Township Board of Trustees could decide whether to stop adding fluoride to its water system during its 7 p.m. board meeting Tuesday at Township Hall, 2655 Clark Road.
The board held a public hearing in November in which a handful of residents and public health experts spoke out in favor of the practice, noting its dental health benefits.
But Trustee Glenn Harper, who first raised the issue giving the board a presentation of research that shows the downside of fluoride, said he remains in favor of ending fluoridation and letting residents decide whether to add fluoride through other methods.
The township's water system serves more than fewer than a thousand residential users and many commercial businesses while the vast majority of residents are on well systems. A PDF summarizing the township research is included with this article, including potential cost savings for ending the treatment and monitoring of fluoride.
Members of the public would be able to weigh in before the matter is discussed during the public comment portion of the meeting.
Hartland residents Josh and Kristin Lord spoke at November's public meeting and they said afterward they moved to the township in part because of its services such as fluoridated water and were surprised that removal was on the agenda.
"Essentially I believe that water fluoridation is not only beneficial for us, but it's completely safe," said Kristin Lord, who is seven-months pregnant.
"It's going to protect my baby's teeth when it's younger and it's going protect it now as its growing its teeth. I just really urge them to keep it in the water."
Dr. Donald Lawrenchuk, medical director for the Livingston and Jackson County health departments, said a large amount of research all show the benefits of the additive. He pointed to information available on the American Dental Association's website.
"Fluoridation is a community health measure that benefits people of all ages," he said. "Multiple studies over the years done in several countries and the United States show that fluoridation can reduce tooth decay by 60 percent in baby teeth and up to 35 percent in adult teeth. When fluoride was discontinued, there were large increases in the incident of tooth decay, especially in children."
In addition, at least one local dentist office — the Hartland Smilemakers — is supporting fluoride in the water. A PDF on its website (also included with this article) notes positive health effects beyond preventing tooth decay.
"(Fluoridation) is not only for decay but as all the health organizations study, oral health has a huge impact on the whole body," the PDF says. "Diabetes, blood pressure, strokes, kidney disease, premature births and low baby weight are just some of the impacted areas."
Harper said fluoride's supporters aren't willing to consider newer research that pokes holes in the additive's benefit and shows dangers, such as a 2006 Harvard University study that shows an increase in bone cancer in boys who were exposed to water fluoridation.
"Unfortunately, they don't consider anything but their stances," he said.
He also said there are area dental offices who support his viewpoint and advise their patients not to use fluoride because of its dangers, but they don't want to speak publicly because they fear sanctions from the ADA.
"I heard this from two different dentist offices that don't even know each other," he said. "They were told if they speak out against it, they'll face ethics charges."
Editor's note: Information from a local dentist's office was added to the article this morning.