Fluoride warning added to water bills

Natick Mass. - - Middlesex News * Tuesday March 10, 1998

When people open their next town water bills, they will notice a new warning about the potential side effects of fluoridation.

Approved by selectmen last night, the warning will say the town recommends pregnant women, parents of children under 3, and people sensitive to fluoride consult their doctors. It also will refer people to the Fluoridation Study Committee's report, which opposes fluoridation.

"You're talking about people," Chairman Mel Willens said. "It' we know anything that could harm anyone, it behooves us to act and not wait."

Selectmen approved the warning in a 3 to 2 vote with Jay Ball, Ed Carr and Willens voting in favor of it. Selectmen Ed Dlott and Paul McKinley voted against it.

No one from the pro fluoridation Board of Health attended last night's meeting, but the board registered its opposition to the warning in a March 5 letter to Willens.

"The notice suggested draws improper conclusions about fluoride in the water and would be inaccurate and inflammatory," Director of Public Health Roger Wade wrote.

The Board of Health sent notices to the town's 13,000 homes in November when fluoridation began. Those notices advised parents to stop giving fluoride supplements to their children and suggested that people may want to discuss fluoridation with their doctor.

McKinley proposed tabling discussion until after April Town Meeting. Selectmen have unanimously sponsored a Town Meeting article asking members to petition the state legislature for a new binding referendum.

"I wonder if it is wise to vote before Town Meeting," McKinley said. "At worst, it is inflammatory. At best, it is a waste of time."

But Ball said selectmen, who sell town water, would be "remiss" not to warn people immediately of the potential danger to certain groups.

Dlott was more direct in his criticism of the warning. "The Board (of Selectmen) is infringing on the authority of the Board of Health, which is responsible for the health of the people of Natick," Dlott said. "It's a bad precedent and inflammatory.

"The message would be "Welcome to Natick. Don't drink the water.' That's a bad message to promulgate."

Willens said selectmen, as the town's top elected officials, are responsible for warning residents any time they are in danger.

Responding to an earlier request by Carr, Town Counsel John Flynn recommended tile wording of the warning.

Anti-fluoride activists argue that fluoride can have negative side effects, such as fluorosis, which is a mottling of the teeth. They also believe it is dangerous to the central nervous, system and to the IQ and behavioral patterns of fetuses.

The Board of Health says health professionals "Overwhelmingly" support fluoride as a safe and effective cavity fighter and a 1988 referendum requires the board to fluoridate Natick's water.

At their meeting of March 9, 1998, the Board of Selectmen voted to include the following notice in all water bills:

This water contains fluoride per order of the
Natick Board of Health.

We recommend that pregnant women, parents of children under three years of age, and individuals with known fluoride sensitivity consult with their personal physicians or health care providers before drinking this water.

The recommendations and report of the Natick Fluoride Study Committee are available in printed form at the Morse Institute Library, and may also be accessed through two Internet websites: www.cadvision.com or www.trufax.org/fluoride/natick.cfm.

We recommend that you consult your physician or health care provider for further information.

Natick Board of Selectmen
(Natick. Massachusettes)