Letter: No fluoride? Maybe we need a new board

I read your front page story Monday (“Snowmass water board nixes including fluoride.” The Aspen Times) regarding the action taken (“in the dark of night”) by the Snowmass Water and Sanitation District board of directors to immediately cease the addition of fluoride to the drinking water. The “Flat Earth” people are alive and well on the Snowmass water board. Their principal argument appears to be that since there might be unknown harmful effects, we should cease fluoridation of our water. What kind of idiotic logic is that — we don’t know what we don’t know so let’s stop fluoridating.

For more than 50 years, I have been designing and evaluating water and wastewater-treatment systems across the country. The arguments by the anti-fluoridation cabal have not changed in that time.

Here are a few simple facts:

1. The addition of fluoride to most municipal water systems (about 75 percent of the U.S. population is so served) has led to at least a 25 percent reduction in dental caries for children and adults. The Centers for Disesas Control and Prevention states that fluoridation is one of the 10 great public health advances of the 20th century. I only wish the drinking water was fluoridated when I was a child.

2. The U.S. Public Health Service recommended concentration of fluoride in drinking water is 0.7 mg/l or parts per million. There is absolutely no reliable research indicating that fluoride at this level causes any unwanted health effects such as cancer, heart disease or osteoporosis.

3. Fluoride is not the only chemical added to municipal water supplies. Most water-treatment plants add chlorine to disinfect the water and many add other chemicals to precipitate colloidal material, reduce hardness and remove trace toxic organics.

According to your article, the consultant to the Snowmass Water District noted that “ingesting too much (fluoride) has proven to have negative health consequences.” Let’s be clear about this rather solicitous commentary to the board. Too much of almost anything can be deleterious. In the case of fluoride, levels much higher than the USPHS recommendations can cause dental fluorosis, that is discoloration of the teeth. That is exactly why the USPHS established 0.7 mg/l as the recommended concentrations of fluoride in municipal water systems.

The action by the Snowmass Water and Sanitation Distirct board is antithetical to the health and well-being of the residents of Snowmass, especially the children. Furthermore, it demonstrates a total lack of understanding of the well documented science of water. Perhaps we need a new board to better represent our interests.

Henry G. Schwartz, Jr, PhD

Snowmass Village