BURTON — People voiced strong opinions both for and against the fluoridation of water at a recent public hearing held at the Genesee County Drain Commissioner’s office (GCDC) Nov. 8. Drinking water at GCDC’s newly built treatment plant connected to the Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA) pipeline has been test-treated, and GCDC plans to begin distribution of water to clients in the next several weeks. In order to cease the addition of fluoride in the water, there must be either a vote by the Genesee County Board of Commissioners or the passage of a referendum ballot question instructing GCDC to do so.
John O’Brien, director of the water and waste division at the GCDC office, who was facilitator of the public hearing, said this would affect the communities which receive water from the water supply district: Flushing Township, the city of Flushing, Richfield Township, Flint Township, Burton, Davison Township, Swartz Creek and Grand Blanc Township, as well as 11 other municipalities.
Carol Lutey, director of pediatric dentistry at Mott Children’s Health Center, said they were seeing a huge increase in more aggressive tooth decay since Flint has not had a fluoridated water system, and very young children were being taken to the operating room because of the decay. She also said, as one who did not have benefits of fluoridated water, she experienced all types of large decay throughout her life.
Dr. Mark Fitzgerald, associate dean of the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, quoted the surgeon general’s report on public and oral health in America, saying there were reductions in dental caries (called cavities or decay) in communities with fluoridated water, with the reductions being as high as 40 percent.
“More than 51 million school hours are lost each year due to the consequences of dental caries,” Fitzgerald said. “Pain and suffering due to untreated diseases lead to problems in eating, speaking and attention to learning. Lost time from dental problems in adults resulted annually in over a billion dollars of lost wages, and to have good health, a person needs healthy teeth.”
Dr. Gerald Natzke, who practices medicine in Grand Blanc, said fluoride does not benefit the teeth unless it touches them. He added that most developed countries do not fluoridate their water, and these countries do not have any more tooth decay than the United States. He said many tissues in the body develop disease, and these are magnified by fluoride. He also said 40 percent of American teenagers show signs of overexposure to fluoride, which causes discoloration of the teeth.
Natzke, offering several statistics of dental decay in communities with fluoridated water, claimed fluoridation does not decrease tooth decay, but increases it. David Joyce, a Kung Fu instructor who said he just wants clean water, said fluoridating water is mass medication, and when a government entity decides to fluoridate water, they are taking on the role of a doctor.
“If a doctor did this without consent, they would lose their license,” he said.
He asked why an entire city should have to deal with a toxin that is helping a very small portion of the population. The documents and comments presented will be given to the Genesee County Board of Commissioners who will review the information to determine whether to approve an ordinance calling for fluoridation of the water.