Nodding to Tea Party, Pinellas Commission Stops Community Water Fluoridation

The American Dental Association called community water fluoridation “the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay.” Yet the Pinellas County Commission, lobbied by tea party activists, voted to stop water fluoridation. (Photo: SXC.)

By Ralph De La Cruz
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting

In 1999, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited community water fluoridation as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the last century.

One of the 10 great public health achievements of modern times. That’s a pretty good recommendation.

The CDC points out that as a result of fluoridation, “Tooth loss is no longer considered inevitable, and increasingly adults in the United States are retaining most of their teeth for a lifetime.”

Water supply fluoridation began in 1945 and by 1992, 10,567 public water systems serving 135 million persons were using it. About 70 percent of cities with more than 100,000 residents use fluoridated water. And the long-term results have been striking. In 1962, the percentage of people age 45 to 54 who had lost their permanent chompers was 20 percent. By the 1990s, it was 9.1 percent.

“The oldest post-World War II ‘baby boomers’ will reach age 60 years in the first decade of the 21st century, and more of that birth cohort will have a relatively intact dentition at that age than any generation in history,” the CDC reported.

And, in urban areas, fluoridation does all that for just 31 cents per person per year. Less than a tenth of a penny per day. That’s about as efficient as health care can get.

The American Dental Association called community water fluoridation “the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay.” And the last five surgeons general have advocated for fluoridation. It might be the only thing that both Republican and Democratic administrations have agreed upon.

But all that apparently isn’t enough for the Pinellas County Commission. Last week, Pinellas commissioners voted 4-3 to stop fluoridating the water for cities such as St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Pinellas Park and for 700,000 residents who live in unincorporated parts of the county.

The vote was apparently a political nod to the tea party, which reportedly opposed fluoridation because it costs money and it’s yet another example of government intrusion. Commission newcomer Norm Roche had been elected last year with tea party backing. And tea party activism reportedly pushed another commissioner, John Morroni, to switch his vote after he voted for fluoridation in 2003.

After the commission meeting, Kris Gionet, one of the organizers of the tea party Pinellas Patriots, told the St. Petersburg Times: “What we asked from them as a board is that when the buck stops with them, they take a conservative stance and spend taxpayers’ money wisely.”

As far back as 1999, tea party fave Sharron Angle was spearheading fluoride opposition in Nevada. Her problem with fluoridation had less to do with money than with fear. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Angle thought fluoridation could put lead, arsenic or mercury into the water, an unfounded fear according to the CDC.

Other folks worry it could cause brittle bones, brain disease, even cancer. And they contend it’s illegal. However, the National Cancer Institute says that extensive studies by the Public Health Service and the National Research Council found “no indication of increased cancer risk associated with fluoridated drinking water.”

From Washington, D.C., to city and county halls, the tea party’s oversized voice is being heard: Shutting down the government is a good thing. Global warming is non-existent. Evolution has no greater validity than creationism. President Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States. Immigration will destroy the country. And now, water fluoridation is dangerous.

“I think the tea party has engulfed themselves or surrounded themselves with conspiracy theorists,” former Pinellas County Commissioner Ronnie Duncan said. He believes the commission would be better served dealing with more pressing problems such as unemployment.

In 2010, Pinellas County had an unemployment rate of 11.7 percent.

Print Friendly

12 Responses to “Nodding to Tea Party, Pinellas Commission Stops Community Water Fluoridation”

  1. jwillie6 says:

    There are many large scientific studies to show that drinking fluoridated water has no positive effect on cavity reduction and to show that it causes cancer, thyroid damage, broken hips, lowered IQ and other health problems. The best source for scientific information on fluoridation can be found here: (www.fluoridealert.org).

    If fluoride were “proven,” there should be evidence of its success in Kentucky, which has been 100% fluoridated for over 40 years. However, government records show that Kentucky leads the nation in the number of dental cavities in children, and in the number of completely toothless adults. The same ineffectiveness is evident in many states and cities.

    Most of Europe (16 countries) has considered and has rejected fluoridation and is 98% fluoride free. The World Health Organization reports that these countries have a better tooth decay rate than any fluoridated country.

  2. nyscof says:

    This article could have been written ten years ago except now the “tea Party” is blamed. It used to be “granola crunchers” or some other perceived derogatory term to put unwitting journalists off the trail of the truth. This isn’t a Tea Party issue. It’s just that the Tea Party seems to be paying attention to some things our elected leaders fail to pay attention to because of legislators’ fear of political fall out and loss of campaign funds.

    Yes The CDC says nice things about fluoridation but it’s just words. The CDC also tells you not to mix fluoridated water with infant Formula. The CDC also tells you that swallowing fluoride does not reduce tooth decay, that fluoride hardens outer enamel by topical means alone. Yet, they have people like you repeating their unscientific platitudes written by people who are hired to promote fluoridation, not study it. There’s no true investigation in this article.

    The EPA regulates fluoride as a water contaminant warning that if too much is consumed bones and teeth could suffer.

    The FDA regulates fluoride as a drug, not meant to be swallowed in toothpaste which carries a poison warning

    Fluoride drops or supplements are only available as a prescription. So why is it OK to add this prescription drug to water supplies? And like all drugs, fluoride has side effects. Are you telling us that fluoride is the only substance on earth that some people aren’t adversely affected by?

    Fluoridation just doesn’t make sense and it makes fools of reporters that claim it does.

  3. HEG says:

    Its strange that a reporter would draw a comparison between tooth decay 30 years ago and tooth decay now without mentioning that better toothpaste, the better toothbrushes and other advances in dentistry that have resulted in people retaining their teeth.

    Its completely ludicrous to suggest that this was only the result of flourinating the water.

  4. Stephon Smith says:

    What rubbish “investigating.” He assumes correlation is causation when referring to dental health improvements and flouride, and then cites that big studies have shown no cancer increases from water fluoridation, ignoring the primary effects of weakened bones and cognitive disruptions. Of course, it’s the Tea Party’s fault, which excuses this “journalist” from doing any real investigating beyond a couple government statistics. What a disgusting display of sloppy, downright dishonest reporting. The author should be ashamed.

  5. Robert Cetti says:

    This reporter is obviously a shill for the Fluoride Industry!! Why doesn’t he or she truly investigate the issue instead of being a mouthpiece for the industry? Florida Center For Investigative Reporting…what a joke!

  6. Waldo Jaquith says:

    Ralph, these trolls are out of their minds. (“Shill for the Fluoride Industry”?) Keep up the good work at FCIR.

  7. Apparently fluoride brings out the passion in people.

    There are no shortages of studies about fluoridation, and there are certainly a few people (and a LOT of websites) who have raised concerns about fluoride, although I haven’t come across any credible scientist or study that proves fluoridation of water is harmful — with one exception. Dental fluorosis.

    The CDC openly acknowledges that too much fluoride can cause fluorosis, which is a mottling or discoloration of teeth. BTW, fluorosis is actually how fluoride was isloated in the 1930s: Scientists for the aluminum company ALCOA found it in the wells of communities that had discolored teeth.

    Out of a concern that some communities (remember, the level of fluoride can fluctuate from community to community depending on the source of the water), may have too high a level of fluoride, the Public Health Service adjusted its recommendations for fluoridation of the water supply. The previous recommendation had been between .7 and 1.2 parts per million. They now say it should simply be .7 ppm.

    That’s how science handles things. A new treatment is introduced, then monitored, and adjusted if necessary. Just because there are adjustments doesn’t mean there’s no benefit to the treatment. It’s all about weighing risks versus benefits. And so far the overwhelming view of the scientific community is that fluoridation has much greater benefits than risks.

    Call me crazy, but I’ll stand with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Dental Association, the National Research Council and the hundreds of scientists and doctors who make up those groups, as well as the last five Surgeons General.

    To suggest that all those people — and me — are shills for the fluoride industry is laughable, at best. That kind of Great Conspira-speak only serves to further caricaturize the tea party, devalues your arguments and obscures your logic.

    Just thought you should know.

  8. Clay Tanner II says:

    Help me, I am confused by what I’ve found on my own with some Googling. It looks like oldest Hispanic-American organization in the country, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) recently has come out opposing fluoridation? Apparently they see it as a discriminatory practice and a violation of their civil rights.
    http://lulac.org/advocacy/resolutions/2011/resolution_Civil_Rights_Violation_Regarding_Forced_Medication/

    Also, can you may want to investigate why Ambassador Andrew Young, the son of a dentist, and former mayor of Atlanta, now is leading a group of well-known civil rights leaders in petitioning the Georgia legislature to reverse the law in Georgia which makes fluoridation mandatory throughout the state of Georgia. See what is purported to be a letter he signed. Can you investigate to see if it might be bogus? I find it strange, and impossible to believe that Latinos and blacks seem to now be joining with the Tea Party on this quest to eliminate fluoridation.

    Also, I heard a former Pinellas County Commissioner, Steven M. Seibert was given lots of stock in Mosaic Corporation and put on its board of directors shortly after the commissioners started putting fluoride into the drinking water in Pinellas. Some say he has made a million dollars from his stock gifts. And Mosaic – the phosphate mining company has saved many times that by supplying its toxic waste as the source for the fluoride chemicals for cities all over Florida and the south.

    It sure appears to me that there is more to it than just Pinellas County and the Tea Party. Looks like this may be the beginning of a movement.

  9. Clay Tanner II says:

    Help me, I am confused by what I’ve found on my own with some Googling. It looks like oldest Hispanic-American organization in the country, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) recently has come out opposing fluoridation? Apparently they see it as a discriminatory practice and a violation of their civil rights.
    http://lulac.org/advocacy/resolutions/2011/resolution_Civil_Rights_Violation_Regarding_Forced_Medication/

    Also, you may want to investigate why Ambassador Andrew Young, the son of a dentist, and former mayor of Atlanta, now is leading a group of well-known civil rights leaders in petitioning the Georgia legislature to reverse the law in Georgia which makes fluoridation mandatory throughout the state of Georgia. See what is purported to be a letter he signed. Can you investigate to see if it might be bogus? I find it strange, and impossible to believe that Latinos and blacks seem to now be joining with the Tea Party on this quest to eliminate fluoridation.

    Also, I heard a former Pinellas County Commissioner, Steven M. Seibert was given lots of stock in Mosaic Corporation and put on its board of directors shortly after the commissioners started putting fluoride into the drinking water in Pinellas. Some say he has made a million dollars from his stock gifts. And Mosaic – the phosphate mining company has saved many times that by supplying its toxic waste as the source for the fluoride chemicals for cities all over Florida and the south.

    It sure appears to me that there is more to it than just Pinellas County and the Tea Party. Looks like this may be the beginning of a movement.

  10. Clay Tanner II says:

    Sorry about the double posting. I forgot to provide the link to what is attributed to Ambassador Andrew Young – I really think it needs to be checked out to see if he really is aligned now with the Tea Party.
    http://spotsonmyteeth.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Letter-to-Georgia-Legislators-from-Ambassador-Andrew-Young.pdf

    Thanks in advance for your follow up on this.

  11. Mike G. says:

    I find it interesting that none of the posters who share in opposition to flouridation provide any scientific data and or peer reviewed, as in scientific, reports. Like they say, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, just not their own facts. A discusion or debate works best when the participants understand logical arguementation. I would say that HEG, may have a point to at least consider however in that dental care has changed/improved and it would be fair to at least look at the facts/data surrounding that improved care as compared to flouridization alone. Beyond that, I am with Mr. De La Cruz in siding with the scientific/medical community with scientific studies.

  12. Bella M. says:

    May you be a Medical Doctor or just anyone having basic knowledge about science, once something “chemical” is included in your water, it may mean something harm or good in our health. As of the authors point of view I understand it as he is giving emphasis only to the good that water fluoridation is giving to the community. We just hope that he became fair in giving opinions.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks


Leave a Reply

*