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(With Poll) Hartland Township to Close Tap on Extra Fluoride in Drinking Water

Board votes 5-2 Tuesday to become one of the few municipalities in Michigan to move away from the controversial additive after months of debate.

The Hartland Township Board of Trustees voted 5-2 Tuesday to immediately stop adding fluoride to its drinking water, joining an international movement that questions the additive's dental benefits and warns of possible health dangers that range from making bones brittle to an increased cancer risk.

Fluoridation supporters countered the evidence was junk science or taken out of context while noting mainstream medical groups, ranging from the Michigan Department of Community Health and the American Cancer Society, support the practice. Some also say the move will give the township a reputation as a place swayed by conspiracy theories.

The results of Tuesday's spirited debate — which one point became even a little theatrical — adds Hartland Township to a rare list where only two communities in the state (Mount Clemens and St. Ignace) in recent years, according to officials.

The change affects the township's tiny system that serves nearly 500 customers. The group consists of mostly homeowners, multiple businesses and three schools in the Hartland School District — the , and .

"We're making the decision for other people," said Trustee Glenn Harper while arguing to end fluoridation before the vote. "Our biggest complaint about Obamacare is that bureaucrats and politicians are going to be making medical decisions for us. Here's a perfect example of where we're doing that. We don't need to do that."

At that moment, Harper, who has spearheaded the effort to remove the substance, said anyone, including the poor, can afford to get fluoride on their own, first holding up a bottle of $2.29 two-month supply of mouthwash from he bought last week, then a $1 bottle purchased from the before the meeting. He said it doesn't make sense for the township to pay thousands of dollars a year to add it to the water.

"If somebody really, really wanted this stuff, here take it," he said placing the bottles in front of him with a thump.

But Trustee Joe Colaianne, who voted no, said the entire issue appears to be political grandstanding less than a year away from elections. The entire board is represented by Republicans.

"You're using props now and I don't appreciate it," he said. "You have a real hard time going up against the American Medical Association, American Dental Association."

Harper denied his motivation was political, adding information from the Centers for Disease and Control shows that drinking fluoridated water doesn't work and that it must be applied topically.

Afterward, Harper said the board made the right decision.

"(Board members) struggled for a long time," said Harper, who first learned about the issue from a chiropractor who also has a Ph.D. in nutrition during a conference. "Everybody did their own research. They didn't rely what I provided them. We relied upon reliable sources, like the CDC, like Harvard … all credible people."

International battle fought out in Hartland

The decision took several , a public hearing and while interest groups on both sides inundated board members with information — a process that Trustee Joe Petrucci, who also voted no, said he appreciated while comparing it to a "root canal." Despite it all, it was local information that swayed him most.

"I talked to a minimum of eight dentists and doctors," said Petrucci, who is the only board member on the system. "All of them suggested keeping fluoride in the system. Not one of them said take it out. I also contacted my neighbors. … They basically told me to leave it alone."

Both Petrucci and Colaianne favored spending money to improve the current system, especially because officials say the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to lower the current acceptable standards for fluoride from 4 parts per million to a range of 1.2 parts per million to 0.7 parts per million (0.7 parts per million is considered by the Department of Health and Human Services the optimal amount to promote dental health).

Currently, the township range has been as high as 2 parts per million.

To upgrade the system, it would have cost about $15,000 in equipment upfront and about $5,300 annually, which would have cost customers an additional $25 a year, according to Township Manager James Wickman.

But other board members questioned whether the the new equipment — which could regulate levels between 0.8 parts per million and 0.6 parts per million — was needed because the groundwater already averages about 0.4 parts per million naturally. They also noted it's not a government mandate and 40 percent of systems across the country exist without fluoride.

Clerk Larry Hopkins, who voted yes to end adding fluoride, said he was raised in the city of Detroit, which has fluoridated water, but had a bunch of cavities while his children never had fluoridated water at home but have had none.

"I don't see the benefit on a cavity standpoint from going to 0.4 to 0.6 and the money that's involved in doing that," said Hopkins, who was joined by Harper, Supervisor Bill Fountain, Treasurer Kathie Horning and Trustee Matt Germane in voting yes.

Last-minute lobbying

A trio of residents tried to sway the board before the vote during public comment.

Hartland resident Jordan Genso said while the anti-fluoridation movement is savvy, it's going to individual communities to make its case politically because it's lost scientifically. He urged the board not to buy into the hype.

"If Hartland passes this … it would reflect really poorly in our community that we allow such conspiracy theories to take hold," he said.

"They never actually address the evidence in favor of fluoride. There's a lot of evidence in favor of fluoride. You can't just ignore that unless you feel it's a conspiracy."

But others spoke out against fluoridation. Natalie Pryde, a 43-year-old environmental scientist from Deerfield Township, said she's concerned because she has two children in Hartland schools that have the water.

Pryde, who has a doctorate in naturopathy, said her reading of research shows dangers were known as early as the 1930s. She said Hartland Township wouldn't be alone in making the change, noting this year alone cities in the U.S. and internationally with the combined populations of 2.5 million people "have been freed from fluoridation."

"Fluoridation, it's unethical," she said. "It's forced medication through our water supply and we don't have a choice. … It's important that when my children and other children step up to that drinking fountain, it's safe."

Christofer Machniak December 22, 2011 at 12:38 PM
Hi Linda, To answer your question about the chiropractor … Trustee Harper said that in answer to a question from Trustee Colaianne, who wanted to know about the conference he attended and who was making the claims about fluoride. Trustee Harper also noted, though, that the speaker has a doctorate in nutrition.
Jordan Genso December 22, 2011 at 12:40 PM
I don't see how it is "forced". AFAIK, it is still legal to have a well, or to go to the store and buy bottled water. Public drinking water is a product, and the government's role is to protect the health of the population. When there is valid evidence showing that fluoride promotes dental health, it is absolutely within the duty of the government to provide water with the optimal health benefits. Fluoridated water is no more "medicine" than cereal fortified with folic acid is "medicine". Fluoride is like any other vitamin or mineral that provides health benefits when consumed in optimal amounts. Now like vitamins, minerals, and any other substance imaginable, if we consume exponentially more of the substance than what is optimal, there are dangers. Showing the public studies that state fluoride is dangerous at levels much higher than what is in the drinking water is no more convincing than saying that if you drink 20x the recommended amount of water, you will die, therefore you shouldn't drink the recommended amount of water. That is an absurd argument, but it's what the anti-fluoride conspiracists often use as the basis for their position.
Linda Bowen December 22, 2011 at 01:51 PM
Thanks for clarifying, Chris. My opinion stands that the board has made a rush to judgment based on misinformation and junk science, and I don't think Mr. Harper helps his position with his statements. One thing he has done is shown me a lot more of what he's all about, which I will remember come election time. For what it's worth, I'm not saying there isn't any evidence the other way, but what I am saying is that I've done a lot of research (despite the assumptions made by those who disagree with my position) and based upon that, I cannot come to the conclusion that water fluoridation should conclusively be stopped. There needs to be more evidence for me to undo decades of tests and studies. The way that it has been represented (a commie plot, a government conspiracy, "forced" medication) does nothing to lend credibility to its opponents and only makes them look alarmist and silly. Likewise, the statement made by poster Audrey on another related article that assumes that because I have a problem with the way the anti-fluoridation proponents spam new sites and message boards, I therefore must favor having the "right to choose" taken away. Poor critical thinking and another way to deflect from having to provide sufficient scientific evidence to back up the spammed misinformation.
dan rice December 22, 2011 at 06:01 PM
Jordan, thank you for bringing a reasoned and fact-based perspective to this in the face of false accusations of dishonesty. These folks will continue to cherry-pick info to fit their narrative and ignore the overwhelming science that supports the health benefits. As for the board, we will remember this at the next election.
Bob December 22, 2011 at 06:15 PM
Absolutely Jordan. Unfortunately, the anti fluoride posters are unwilling (unable) to appreciate a logical argument. They seem to be driven by a variety of agendas, including political, which don't admit a legitimate consideration of the issue.
Diane Sperber December 22, 2011 at 09:12 PM
None of you who are for fluoridation could have seriously looked at all the evidence against it. I first found out about the dangers of fluoridated water ten years ago when I noticed spotted discoloration on my sons teeth. I discovered that it had been caused from too much fluoride. Since this was anecdotal as Linda Bowen would say maybe I should have ignored it. For my son's sake and my whole family's sake I'm glad I didn't. Since then we've had to spend more to try and filter it out of our drinking water. The problem with putting fluoride in our water system is the danger of the accumulative affect. One cannot control the amount. When our crops are watered it gets into our food etc. etc. Like smoking cigarettes or asbestos exposure it takes years to see the negative affects. Even those promoting fluoridation say it is harmful in large amounts. I don't understand the anger I read between the lines. Those against fluoride are concerned about not only their health but YOUR health and the health of ALL. I think it was Stalin (or someone as evil as him) who said, "If you tell the masses a lie long enough they will soon believe it as true". I think this is what has happened to you and unfortunately most of our generation. You all have been brainwashed. You need to read The Fluoride Deception by Christopher Bryson if you want to truly understand how and why fluoride ended up in our water systems.
Bob December 22, 2011 at 09:58 PM
Diane, I appreciate your concerns, but have you looked at the other side of the issue? If your opinion comes from the negative information only, its not not objective. You can find books out there by "PhDs" which promote all kinds or crazy or fringe ideas. That doesn't make them credible. A book called the "Fluoride Deception" is clearly not the place to get accurate, objective information.
pascal December 22, 2011 at 11:44 PM
>> Now, not all of those articles find no problem with fluoridation, but they conclude that there are actual benefits. Anti depressant drugs also have some benefits for some people - Let's put anti depressants in the water shall we?
pascal December 22, 2011 at 11:50 PM
> If your opinion comes from the negative information only, its not not objective. WRONG, as long as there is ANY negative effect (osteoroposis, brain damage), this is enough evidence to prove that we should not put it in the water. If something is sometimes dangerous it should not be forced upon people. if you don't agree with this, we can only agree to disagree. I will drop anti depressant in your family tap water, just because it helped my aunty get through her though time.
Bob December 23, 2011 at 12:16 AM
Pascal, you missed the point. I'm not surprised. Your last sentence speaks volumes about you. Sad.
Christofer Machniak December 23, 2011 at 02:26 AM
Sorry … my bad … Try this … http://hartland.patch.com/articles/hartland-lampooned-over-water-fluoridation
Christofer Machniak December 23, 2011 at 02:28 AM
OK, I'm going to repeat myself because I want to delete the bad link … Hi all, A new development I thought everyone might like to see where the board is satirized by a regional columnist … We also have Trustee Harper's reaction … http://hartland.patch.com/articles/hartland-lampooned-over-water-fluoridation
Jordan Genso December 23, 2011 at 02:50 AM
I think it is clear by now that the two sides of this debate are not playing by the same rules. One side tries to give a sincere counter-argument to the points being made by the other, yet that same earnest approach to the discussion is not being reciprocated. When Diane comes along and makes statements that have already been contended, and she gives no response to the counter-argument, only repeating the same flawed points, it's obvious they know they can't win if the debate is an actual back & forth discussion. So they parrot their talking points, and ignore the opposition. The only thing that may be more sad than their technique is the fact that it works on some people. And they've found how to translate that strategy for victory into actual political influence. If the debate takes place on a large scale (like statewide), they won't be as successful because too many people will see through their fraudulent ways. But by working at the township level, where not many people pay attention, it's easier to sneak their agenda through and never address the logical opposition. You, myself, Dan, Linda- we can make the best argument possible, but it wouldn't affect their response in any way. What I do find intriguing though is that these people only exist (online) to promote their misinformation. It would make an interesting psychological case study, to get inside the head of someone who lacks such basic morality.
Jordan Genso December 23, 2011 at 03:22 AM
pascal- So you feel there is no difference between adding a chemical to the drinking water that is shown to provide general public health benefits, and adding a prescription drug that has not been shown to provide any general public health benefits. What I can say is that if there was overwhelming evidence that showed adding anti-depressants to the water made significant improvements in public health, with basically no negative consequences (as is the reality with fluoride), then I would have no reason to be opposed to its addition. If there were negative consequences, I would weigh the cost/benefit analysis and decide from that, with the default position being against the addition. But if before performing the cost/benefit analysis of the decision, someone said they had evidence of all sorts of negative consequences, and upon my review of that "evidence", it was clear they were trying to mislead me, I would find myself in the same position I am currently- wanting those individuals to address the points in favor of the addition. I actually think that if you wanted to discredit the anti-fluoride position, you would make the same arguments you are currently making. I have to wonder if you are a sheep in wolf's clothing.
Jordan Genso December 23, 2011 at 04:01 AM
Before anyone misrepresents what I wrote, I will clarify. I would not support adding anti-depressants to the water, because I see no reason to, and I see very obvious reasons why not to. That may be the difference between us, I require valid reason to support my actions. Your side tries to give people reasons to be opposed to fluoride, but those reasons are based on lies and misrepresentations. And there are clear reasons to be in favor of fluoride (with overwhelming evidence showing those reasons to be based on fact). All your side has to do is provide legit reasons to be opposed (and acknowledging that your evidence up to this point is based on misrepresentations would be a plus), and explain how those reasons outweigh the benefits (and denying that there are benefits is an irrational position). If you can do that, I would join you in opposing fluoride. What would it take for you to admit fluoride is fine?
pascal December 23, 2011 at 07:39 PM
> What I can say is that if there was overwhelming evidence that showed adding anti-depressants to the water made significant improvements in public health, with basically no negative consequences (as is the reality with fluoride) Jordan you are going deeper the black hole of denying and lying to yourself. Here are some quick facts: Fluoridation and lead 2010: Fluoride increases lead levels in blood and tissue 2007: Confirmation of elevated blood lead in children exposed to fluoridation chemicals 2007: Fluoridation agents leaches lead from brass pipes 2000: Elevated blood lead linked to fluoridation 1999: Children in fluoridated communities have elevated blood lead Brain 2011 Dental Fluorosis linked to Lowered IQ 2007: Fluoride lowers IQ more effectively than arsenic 2004: Fluoride decreases brain nicotinic receptors 2001: Fluoride accumulates in the human pineal gland 1997: Fluoride interferes with pineal gland function Developmental effects 2009: Fluoridation associated with premature birth Osteosarcoma 2009: Fluoride high in blood of osteosarcoma patients 2006: Fluoridation associated with osteosarcoma in young males
pascal December 23, 2011 at 07:41 PM
Do NOT tell me that these are not objective since THEY ARE objective peer reviewed scientific papers from all over the world. Educate yourself & do not believe what you are told by politicians and lobbyists until you get a chance to read these papers like I did :)
Bob December 23, 2011 at 08:50 PM
Pascal, since you seem to like to quote "science", how about some reference citations for these "facts". Nobody is going to accept your statements of fact presented in such a flawed manner. And please find some alternative to the use of "lying". It makes you look paranoid.
Jordan Genso December 23, 2011 at 09:00 PM
This is a prime example of how flawed your position is. Let's take the "Fluoridation and lead" category you copy/pasted from fannz.org. The studies in 1999, 2000, and 2007 are all from the same researchers, Coplan and Masters. The other one in 2007 was a study about plumbing. And the 2010 example was a study on animals, with only speculation that it may relate to humans. So the 3 from Coplan and Masters would be your "best" evidence, if you ignore the fact that the use of 3 studies from the same researchers to support a claim that no other researchers have found is shady at best. Well here is a rebuttal from the CDC to Coplan & Master's 1999 study: http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/pp/oralhealth/fluoridation/fl-142.pdf Key highlights: "This manuscript is poorly written and provides insufficient detail on study method to allow a full evaluation" "This is a very poor conceived and developed piece of research. The review of the literature is highly selective and one of the key documents to support the author’s point of view is authored by one of the authors" "Masters and Coplan’s conclusions are unsupported even by their own limited data" "The paper will not stand up to rigorous review by expert scientists experienced in the relevant disciplines" You try to overwhelm with quantity, but there's no quality. Again, you undermine any credibility the anti-fluoride movement may have everytime you post. I think I'm onto something with the sheep in wolf's clothing idea.
Rob Smith December 24, 2011 at 12:20 PM
So I should go to the store and buy bottled water if I don't want my kids drinking flouridated water that I have to buy from the government? What about the chemicals in the plastic bottles? I'm sure there are many other things like vitamins, etc.,that can be added to our drinking water to make our lives better. Maybe we should each make a wish list of our preferred additives and petition the board to add them to the water supply. The fact that there is ANY evidence that adding flouride is a bad idea is enough to not do it and let each family decide on their own. Read the warning labels on toothpaste tubes about swallowing. And don't compare flouride to chlorine, which is added to kill bacteria so it won't kill us.
Bob December 24, 2011 at 02:47 PM
Rob, your points are well taken, but there are risks or negatives to most things we do to protect our health. For example, chlorine forms chlorinated hydrocarbons in the process of killing bacteria. Some studies have linked these compounds (in quantity) to cancer. But, the benefits vastly exceed the risks. We put iodine in table salt to prevent goiter. Iodine is obviously poison in other context. There are many other examples. The thing that make fluoridation a little different is that it became a political issue as early as the 1960s. As a result, science and reason take a back seat to anger, accusations and hysteria.
dan rice December 24, 2011 at 04:10 PM
"Despite support by public health organizations and authorities, efforts to introduce water fluoridation have met considerable opposition, opposition that is "often based on Internet resources or published books that present a highly misleading picture of water fluoridation". " Armfield JM. When public action undermines public health: a critical examination of antifluoridationist literature. Aust New Zealand Health Policy. 2007;4:25. doi:10.1186/1743-8462-4-25. PMID 18067684. PMC 2222595.
Rob Smith December 24, 2011 at 04:18 PM
Bob, You are right about side-effects to about anything. If there is an alternative to chlorine, I'm all for it. I don't like it in my water. Regarding things like salt, I can buy salt without iodine if I want to. I agree with you regarding the irrationality of this debate. Reading some of these comments is just depressing. Again, my point is that we shouldn't have to have this stuff in our water if we don't want it. People can take care of their teeth if they choose to. We don't need the nanny state doing it for us.
Bob December 24, 2011 at 04:42 PM
Rob, thanks for your valid comments. A difference of opinion on this is perfectly OK. For example, if the argument had been simply the cost of fluoridation has gotten too high and people get fluorine from toothpaste, I could accept it (not necessarily agree). Unfortunately, some have chosen to introduce all sorts of scare tactics, half truths, cheery picked and bad science, and abuse to try and force public opinion. If you spend some time looking at both sides of this issue, a picture begins to emerge of cult like, obsessive behavior. Making decisions in that kind of atmosphere always gets us in serious trouble.
Janet Pettit December 25, 2011 at 11:17 AM
Bob, chlorine is added to help make water potable, fluoride (F) compounds are prescription medications. Fluoridation (F'n) has been labeled "mass medication" by the courts. The chemical used for f'n, hydrofluorosilicic acid, has never been approved by the FDA which admits that they have no studies (none exist) on file confirming that the chemical is safe to drink or reduces tooth decay if swallowed. Hydrogen bonding holds proteins together. F has an affinity for hydrogen, combining and removing the hydrogen bonding and rendering proteins unusable. DNA, hormones, allergens and enzymes are all proteins helping explain why cancers, diabetes, hypothyroidism, and asthma are all increasing. Hydrofluorosilicic acid will eat through any storage container including glass which makes disposal extremely difficult. Also, it is so radioactive there are no accepting dump sites for this kind of waste. Huge, mile-long holding ponds lined with calcium carbonate (shells) hold the toxic waste of mining companies until they can convince gullible towns to buy the unrefined, EPA-rated, "Extremely Hazardous Waste" that comes from EPA-mandated chimney scrubbers of these companies. My grandson's baby teeth erupted with severe dental fluorosis: crumbling, black-stained teeth, capped at a cost of over $8,000. A NJ study found that osteosarcoma, a bone cancer, was 3 to 7 times higher in fluoridated counties. Do you really want to swallow this? Read your toothpaste warning!
Janet Pettit December 25, 2011 at 12:42 PM
Linda, the "YEARS of scientific research" are frauds! The book, "The Greatest Fraud," 1996, examining all the research studies at the time, was a critique by Australia's Univ. of Melbourne dental professor, Dr. Philip Sutton, who found no fluoride proponent's study that could pass scientific scrutiny (i.e., following the "scientific method"). All were "junk science." The World Health Organization compared tooth decay in about 20 developed countries (fluoridated vs. non-fluoridated) : no significant difference in decrease rates. Thirteen Nobel Prize winners in chemistry and medicine oppose fluoridation as do the Nobel Committee and the Pasteur Institute. Virtually all European countries have banned fluoridation. Dr. Hardy Limeback, DDS, PhD (biochemistry), former spokesperson and Canada's Dental Association fluoridation promoter for 12 years, looked into fluoridation's effects for himself and is now an outspoken opponent. Most dentists have not made the effort to research the literature for themselves and accept the ADA's promotion. Twenty-six studies now show brain damage (ADHD, etc) by fluorides. Dr. Albert Schatz, PhD, Nobel Prize winner and streptomycin developer stated in 1982: "Fluoride is the greatest and potentially the most dangerous medical hoax...of all time. It is the greatest fraud that has ever been perpetrated and it's been perpetrated on more people than any other fraud." It's not about children's teeth. Follow the money!
Bob December 25, 2011 at 01:50 PM
Janet, what do chimney scrubbers have to do with the issue? What Noble chemists? Your chemistry is taken out of context. Vague unsubstantiated references like these are exactly why your arguments fail.
Janet Pettit December 25, 2011 at 02:13 PM
Actually, Bob, fluoridation is not about stopping children's tooth decay, it's about getting rid of an extremely toxic by product of all mining companies. It's been estimated that it would cost these companies about $400,000,000/year to dispose of the fluoride. This is a powerful incentive to find cost-cutting methods The U.S. government got into the promotion of fluoridation when in the mid '40's the atomic bomb was being developed which needed lots of fluoride. The companies making it were damaging prize peach crops downwind in NJ and farmers were threatening to sue. Released classified papers about the bomb development, told of the government's concern over the farmers' suits and the suggestion to join the promotion of fluorides as good for people's teeth to avoid paying high reparations. Result: farmers each received only a couple hundred dollars for their losses and the public was convinced about the magic of fluoridation. As fluoride-producing plants continued spewing out hydrofluoric acid, the EPA stepped in and made them capture the fluoride in scrubbers. As more fluoridation's dangerous side effects are now being discovered, the government (CDC, FDA) as well as the mining companies are concerned about liability suits of parents of children whose teeth have been permanently damaged by fluorosis. To now admit the damaging effects opens up potential class action to rival the tobacco companies' fiasco. The scam continues.
Bob December 25, 2011 at 06:24 PM
Janet, I would really like to know the source of your story. Sounds like a Tom Clancy thriller. Representing that people are exposed to toxic waste is not only ridiculous but irresponsible and a perfect example of the tactics I object to. These acids, which are not toxic waste, that you talk about are used in microscopic quantities and furnish fluoride ions in the water, not like mixing , for example, sugar and water where the sugar remains intact. The PH of the water is closely controlled. Nobody is drinking Hydrofluorosilicic acid. Remember your high school chemistry? I would like to continue this back and forth but is clearly a waste of time. Our opinions come from different poles. Neither side is going to convince the other.
pascal December 28, 2011 at 10:10 AM
Fluoride, the active ingredient in many pesticides and rodenticides, is a powerful poison - more acutely poisonous than lead. Because of this, accidental over-ingestion of fluoride can cause serious toxic symptoms. Each year there are thousands of reports to Poison Control centers in the United States related to excessive ingestion of fluoride toothpastes, mouthrinses, and supplements. Water fluoridation accidents, resulting in excess levels of fluoride in water, have been one of the sources of acute fluoride poisoning. This is so scary you probably don't want to read the research... http://www.fluoridealert.org/fluoride-dangers/health/index.aspx

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