Seventy-one individuals attended the first Citizens for Safe Water community meeting Friday night at Fishers of Men Lutheran Church to discuss the strategies that must take place to keep residual fluoride out of the drinking water on Pine Island.
Ron Parker, the president of Citizens for Safe Water, said they began the not-for-profit organization Wednesday, June 20, just two days before the meeting.
The meeting attracted many individuals who are concerned about how residual fluoride will affect their health when added to the Pine Island water system.
The Greater Pine Island Water Association board of directors approved a $63,313 grant in May that will provide funds to construct the infrastructure and purchase equipment needed to add residual fluoride to the water system. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Preventative Health Services Block grant amounted $53,817 and the Health Resources and Services Administration grants to states to support oral health workforce activities amounted to $9,496. The contract is between the state of Florida, Department of Health and the GPIWA.
William Thacher, GPIWA general manager, said the association anticipates receiving the check from the state in the next two weeks. Once the check arrives, they will begin the process of purchasing and constructing the fluoride infrastructure.
The fluoride, Thacher said, will be added to the water in the next four to six weeks.
Parker opened the meeting Friday by telling those who attended that it is time to take back control of the GPIWA. He said although the board has been very cordial and nice with discussions that were had about adding fluoride to the drinking water - that they are sincere that fluoride is safe, he believes that fluoride is not something people want in their water.
A letter sent to Jack Mills and Citizens for Safe Water on June 20 from Thacher and the board of directors stated, "I can assure you that both the board and staff are satisfied that the proper due diligence has taken place before a final decision was made. In fact, many, many hours were expended researching both the pros and cons of water fluoridation before the decision was made. In addition, many more hours were expended looking into all the negative comments and data that have been presented to us."
A website was constructed - www.citizensforsafewater.org - a week and a half ago to increase the communication among residents, along with the ability to post documentation, which includes the contract between the GPIWA and the state of Florida for the grant.
Parker said their strategy is to include language in the bylaws that states that the board of directors cannot authorize agreement without the association members' vote.
He told the crowd that the contract has a little surprise in it that the association members were not notified about.
According to the contract, "the provider agrees to use the equipment for water fluoridation purposes only, and to continue to fluoridate for at least 20 years after contract funds are expended."
Thacher said the contract does state it is a 20-year grant, but there is no penalty of opting out early, which requires a 30-day written opt out.
"We need you," Parker told the crowd Friday night. "We need help, we need volunteers, we need you guys to run with it."
According to the members of the organization, they need 50 signatures to get started in putting a halt to the addition of fluoride in their drinking water by changing the bylaws of the GPIWA. Once those signatures are obtained it will be given to the president of the GPIWA board, which will then be given to their lawyer, Jack Mills said, a member of the organization.
Those signatures, he said has to be certified by Aug. 1.
Thacher said they actually need 584 signatures of voting members to get the ball rolling in changing the water association's bylaws, which will call a special meeting. He said the meeting would require 100 voting members to be present. To pass the bylaw or to defeat the bylaw request would require a 50 plus one percent vote.
The adjustment of fluoride to a city's water supply was first made in January 1945 in Grand Rapids, Mich. According to the Florida Dental Association, adding fluoride to the water decreased the amount of cavities children received with their baby teeth by as much as 60 percent, along with reducing the permanent tooth decay in adults by almost 35 percent.
In addition, the Florida Dental Association stated that adding fluoride to a community water supply is a simple adjustment to the existing natural occurring fluoride levels within the drinking water. That recommended level is 0.7 1.2 parts per million - which assists in the prevention of tooth decay.
Thacher also wrote in the letter that fluoride used to enhance drinking water systems is not a toxic industrial waste, but rather a product that meets the stringent standards set by the American National Standards Institute for drinking water chemicals as inspected and certified by Underwriters Laboratories Inc.
The latest data, which was comprised in 2002, showed that 170 million people, or two-thirds of the population, already have fluoridated public water systems in the United States.
Dr. Thomas Spotts, a dentist on Pine Island, is in favor of putting fluoride in the water on Pine Island. He said by adding fluoride to the water supply it reduces cavities in children by 20-40 percent. He said there is no benefit at all for people who wear dentures.
"Still very safe and effective," Spotts said of adding fluoride to the water.
He said it is also cheap to add fluoride to the public water system.
According to the Florida Dental Association, the annual cost of fluoridation for communities that are less than or equal to 20,000 people is 50 cents a year and for communities less than or equal to 5,000 people is $3 per person.
Thacher also stated in the letter that fluoride enhancement of the water system is estimated to cost less than 50 cents per member per year after the grant expires.
Spotts said like bromine, fluoride helps control the bacteria to a certain extent.
"I have never seen any side affects from low doses of fluoride that way," Spotts said. "It is already in the well water and almost the ideal parts per million. Our own system takes it out, which is the only reason putting it back."