SPRINGVILLE — The village of Springville Board of Trustees voted to not form a committee to examine the municipal water fluoridation, after each board member and eight community members spoke about the subject, at the May 20 meeting.
Mark Maussner, a town of Concord resident, who initially brought the issue to the board, first spoke out against municipal fluoridation.
“Although I do not live directly within village limits, I do interface with [municpal water], on several levels,” he said, adding that his daughter goes to school in Springville. “It should be a concern for anyone, if they are a citizen of the earth, no matter where they live.”
Maussner said that he appreciated the trustees’ willingness to look over the materials he had presented and requested that the board form a “balanced” panel or committee, on the issue.
“We are lucky to have this board, to live in Springville, where we can express our concerns and be listened to,” Maussner said. “Science evolves. Decisions that were correct, 50 or 60 years ago, are not always correct, now.”
Maussner cited fluoride’s scientific basis, which he called “weak and shoddy, with a flawed research methodology” and called it bad medical practice, since, “fluoride is the only drug added to water, regardless of consent. It’s not a [Food and Drug Administration], approved drug and the dose can’t be regulated.”
Matt Tardick, also of Concord, said that “the topic hit close to home, once I realized fluoride isn’t beneficial,” referencing friends who work in the pharmaceutical industry who have chosen to not give their own children fluoride treatments. He noted that European countries that do not fluoridate water have cited lower levels of tooth decay than the United States.
“It goes throughout my entire system,” he said, about the chemical. “I’d much rather [residents have a choice to] go to the store, to buy fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash, which I wouldn’t, than have it put in our water.”
Kyle Ballachino of Springville said that “the head of the water department doesn’t understand how fluoride contributes to our bodies.”
Retired dentist Gary Nachbar, who practiced in Springville for 35 years, said that “there is no evidence that sodium fluoride decreases tooth decay. Tooth decay can be controlled by good oral hygiene, diet, rinsing after eating and drinking and good brushing, two times a day.
“The FDA does not approve fluoride as a medication and the [Environmental Protection Agency] considers it hazardous waste,” he continued. “If the government wants to put this drug in our water, what about other drugs? Where does it end? I don’t want to give up to the government what should be done only by doctors and medical people.”
The issue of personal choice was raised by Pamela Zygaj of Concord. “I don’t feel that anyone has the right to make me take this drug, without my approval,” she said.
Springville resident Jim Fleckenstein said he agreed that “putting a chemical into our water, that we have no say about, is ridiculous. Asbestos was good for us, 50 years ago, and now it kills us. Maybe fluoride is that, for us. Putting a chemical in anything you don’t have a choice to do yourself should be against the law.”
A myriad of diseases, including cancers, thyroid dysfunction, arthritis, cell death, dementia and infertility were cited by resident Gerald Krezmien, who said that he is “not interested in a panel. You are officials, elected by the public, and you’re all intelligent human beings who are sitting here, to protect public health. A panel behind closed doors is not good enough, for me. Let’s have a vote and see who’s for it [and] who’s against it. That way, we know, when March rolls around, who we need to vote out.”
The coordinator for the Springville Concord Elder Network, Virginia Krebs, spoke, on behalf of that organization.
“We are not scientists, but we do believe in science. We believe that the people we elect would not act in a capricious manner,” she said. “I work with people who are 75 years old and have dentures and the quality of life is hampered.
“[Poor oral health] can lead to heart disease. I’m not saying we should or should not fluoridate, but I will place my trust in what science shows us. You can find anything on an Internet site, that is not put out, by scientists.”
After the public comment period closed, Springville Mayor William Krebs thanked the assembled community members for their comments.
Trustee Nils Wikman began by saying that he is a skeptic by nature, but that he had gone through all the information presented, from both sides.
He said that the organization that sponsored most of the anti-fluoride literature was started by a biochemistry professor, who did no primary research of his own.
“If he was a biochemist, why did he not do any primary research? That’s a red flag, to me,” he said. “If they’re so concerned about this chemical, why go after municipal water systems? Why not get rid of it, altogether?”
Wikman also noted that fluoride is naturally occurring in many water sources, including Springville’s.
“Municipal water may have a whole lot less than your well water. Bottled water doesn’t have to be tested [for fluoride]. I’m skeptical of a movement to hit community fluoridation, that isn’t going after the whole process.”
Wikman also noted that the health defects cited by Krezmien could also be attributed to other sources, such as chlorine, power lines or cell phones.
“The thing I’m struggling with, is whether the government has the right to put something in water, that people don’t want. It’s a personal freedom thing. I weeded through both pro- and anti-fluoride people, to try to come to the truth. Maybe, after we last examined the issue, in 1995, things have changed. Science has changed. Technology has changed.
“I know you get passionate,” he continued. “I looked at the records [at the water treatment plant] and they do the best they can, with their tools and technology, to keep the fluoride at proper levels.”
Trustee Terry Skelton said that he found the research by the Centers for Disease Control, the American Dental Association and the FDA more compelling than what Maussner had presented.
“This group of people, state, federal, local officials, doctors and dental officials would not continue to recommend and research fluoride if it was truly that bad for us, in the right dosage,” he said.
Trustee Gerald Lohrey called the issue “a big toss-up.
“There is info from many sources. I can find as many arguments for as against. My biggest hangup would be putting it in the water, against your will.”
The economic end of the issue was addressed by Trustee Alan Chamberlin, who asked, “If we remove the fluoride, how many people would put up a for sale sign? On the other side, how many people would want to live in a progressive community that does not fluoridate and would buy a house in Springville?”
William Krebs called reviewing the information, on both sides of the issue, “a monumental task.
“We have received many emails, letters and information from residents [and] the New York State Department of Health. None of us are doctors, dentists or medical research experts. Like it or not, in New York state, we are authorized to make that decision. In life, sometimes things are gray. We have to make the decision, based on the information we have, on hand,” the mayor explained.
Krebs, a high school English and journalism teacher, said that he considered much of Maussner’s literature “advocacy press” that “is meant to scare us into thinking fluoride is bad.
“One article, by Donald Miller, said that he hopes Americans see fluoride like mercury. There is no doubt in my mind that, with medical advances, things are going to change. To equate fluoride with the hocus pocus we had 100 years ago; I don’t think we’re there yet.”
Krebs read portions of letters he had received from the NYSDOH, Springville Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Martin Hoffman, the Arcade Springville Dental Group and others, all in support of fluoride.
The NYSDOH commended the village of Springville’s participating in its ongoing efforts to continue increasing community fluoridation, as part of its health improvement plan, citing figures it drew from recent census data, about potential health costs.
“The cost for removing fluoride in the village would be $68,250 and, in Erie County, it would rise to $13 million. That’s compelling. I don’t believe in conspiracy theories. I wouldn’t send my grandchildren, my children or myself to someone who wasn’t a dentist, for dental problems,” Krebs continued. “I’m going to defer to the experts. We have an overwhelming amount of documentation and much of it is very technical. When we need professional advice, we go to [professionals].”
After a role call vote, the board voted unanimously to discontinue the discussion on municipal fluoridation and to not form a committee to pursue the issue.
In other board matters:
– Administrator Tim Horner asked that $73,354 be moved from unappropriated funds into the budget, for the Waste Water Treatment Plant improvement project, ahead of schedule, to take advantage of lower interest rates. The motion was approved. Funds were also transferred, in the amount of $16,821, to the Buffalo Street drop structure fund.
– Building Inspector Mike Kaleta reported that he had gained access to the Springville Hotel and that conditions were “way worse than I thought they’d be.” Hazardous material samples were taken for testing and the analysis of the structure’s viability is “moving along,” according to Kaleta.
– Eaton Spray Park will be open daily, June 15 – Sept. 2, from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Springville Youth Inc. will provide lifeguards.
– The board approved a re-negotiation of the Springville Center for the Arts contract with the village for construction on the 5 East Main St. property, to allow for an adjusted time frame and insurance issues that have recently arisen.
– Wikman asked for volunteers to help with a community build project at the SYI grounds, for two new playgrounds. The event will take place on June 14 and 15.
– Krebs reported that the New York State Department of Transportation has announced that it has received federal funds to rebuild the high-level bridge on South Cascade Drive, now known as the Miller Road South Cascade Bridge.
“We have received millions of dollars, that will serve our community for generations to come,” Krebs said. “We pride ourselves on keeping up with our infrastructure and it’s great to see the state and federal governments working with us.”
The next village of Springville Board of Trustees meeting will be held on June 3 at 7 p.m. at the municipal building.