WELCOME TO SPRINGVILLE — The water and sewer divisions of the village of Springville’s Department of Public Works are located at 243 North Central Ave. Photos by Jessie Owen.
SPRINGVILLE — On May 8, 1995, the Springville mayor, at the time, appointed a committee to evaluate the necessity and safety of putting fluoride into the village water system. Within a month, the members of that committee voted unanimously, to continue the longtime practice of water fluoridation.
On Jan. 3 of this year, Village of Springville Chief Water Operator David Sullivan received a letter from the New York State Department of Health commissioner that applauded the village’s “commitment to providing optimally fluoridated water, to the community” and thanked Springville for its “commitment to the oral health” of its residents.
On April 14, a packet of information, asking that the village cease the process of water fluoridation, was disseminated to each member of the Springville Board of Trustees. Board Member Alan Chamberlin reported that the anti-fluoridation documents had been provided to him by Erie County resident Mark Maussner.
“We have, as our objective, to end the practice of water fluoridation in Springville,” Maussner’s opening letter read. “It is harmful to our health and ... using municipal water as a forced delivery system of a medication is wrong and not in keeping with an individual’s right to self-determination. I believe that ending the practice of water fluoridation is the will of the people.”
No decision about this issue was made, during the board’s April 14 meeting, but Springville Mayor William Krebs said that, on May 20, the board will choose whether or not to form a committee to “look into the necessity and safety of fluoridated water.”
Fluoride Action Network Director Dr. Paul Connett said, “We need to beat fluoridation, one open mind and one community, at a time.”
Since 1990, more than 300 worldwide communities have issued a city council or referendum vote to end public water fluoridation.
The village of Springville began treating its water with fluoride in 1974, the year that the United States Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act, which, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, “requires [the] EPA to determine the level of contaminants in drinking water, at which no adverse health effects are likely to occur.”
New York Gov. George Pataki signed New York Public Health - Title 1 - Section 1,100, the “Home Rule Bill,” on July 2, 1996. This legislation put “the decision on municipal water fluoridation in the hands of elected officials,” instead of leaving that choice up to the county or state health department.
The United States Public Health Service has recommended community water fluoridation as a means of preventing dental decay. According to the American Dental Association, 72.4 percent of Americans now receive fluoride through their drinking water.
While fluoride occurs naturally in drinking water, in many places throughout the world, it is not found in Springville’s natural water system.
“Its dental benefits were discovered, accidentally, in the early 1900s, when a dentist in Colorado Springs, Frederick McKay, noted that the local Native Americans had brown staining of their teeth, but almost no tooth decay,” explained Dr. Joseph Rumfola DDS of Family Dentistry in Springville. “It took several years of study, to determine that a very high level of naturally occurring fluoride in their drinking water was the reason for these findings.”
Per Rumfola, sodium fluoride is added to Springville’s public water system. This is the same chemical that is found in commonly-ingested items such as milk, adult toothpaste and mouth rinse.
Springville’s fluoridation program is overseen by the New York State Department of Health. The chemical is placed into Springville’s system at the village water plant, located at 243 North Central Ave.
Superintendent of Public Works Karl Lux explained that water is drawn out of the village’s wells and goes through a filtration system, which removes naturally-occurring manganese and iron. The water department then adds precise amounts of chlorine and fluoride, before the water is put into the public system.
According to the NYS DOH, chlorine is utilized to disinfect water. Adding a regulated amount of chlorine to water “can kill dangerous, foodborne bacteria, such as Salmonella, E. coli and Campylobacter,” said the Water Quality and Health Council.
“We are required to keep levels under a certain part per million,” Lux said, about chlorine and fluoride. “That is regulated by the state health department. They set the standard.”
Fluoride is utilized, to make teeth more resistant to decay, according to Rumfola. “Treated teeth are more decay-resistant,” he said. “Decay is bacteria on teeth that eats carbs and produces acid. It eats away at teeth. The more fluoride, the less likely the tooth will get eaten away.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognized water fluoridation as “one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.”
Springville’s water department records the level of chlorine and fluoride, every day, and submits those numbers to the state health department, on a monthly basis. “We do this with all of the chemicals, the temperature and the pH levels,” Lux added.
Springville’s fluoride is obtained in liquid form, from vendors, who bid to become a supplier for the local department, on an annual basis.
“We test the parts per million at the injection points, using a spectrophotometer, which tells what the sample strength is,” Sullivan said. According to the ADA, “The optimal level for preventing tooth decay is a range from .07 – 1.2 parts per million.”
Per the 1995 Springville Fluoridation Committee, “The mixed proportion of fluoride to water [in Springville] is 1 part per million. This proportion is well within the dosage range” recommended by the Food and Drug Administration and the ADA.
“There must be someone here, to check the levels, every day,” Sullivan said. “The health department regulates us. We write every chemical down, every day.”
Monthly samples of the water are sent to the health department. “If there are problems, we are required to retest,” Sullivan said. In addition, the Erie County Department of Health sends a representative to Springville on random, unannounced visits, to test the water’s chemical levels. “They also take a sample from the public water; from one of the businesses,” Sullivan added. “We get a report from that, as well.”
The water department employees are required to be certified, according to Sullivan. Each individual also takes required yearly recertification courses.
“We are following everything the health department wants us to do,” Sullivan said. “They made their requirements steep. They do inspections, every year, and they check everything out.”
Per the packet provided by Maussner to the village board, part of the reason that Springville is being asked to discontinue water fluoridation is due to the price. Per data supplied by Lux, however, the average annual cost, per residential customer in Springville, is $0.96.
“There is not a lot of waste, and [the cost] falls in line with estimates across the nation,” Krebs said. “It is more cost effective than even toothpaste.”
According to Rumfola, “There is a very small expense with it. We are talking about dollars, per person, per year. It costs less than the cost of one dental restoration.”
The ADA concurred with Rumfola’s statement. “Over a lifetime, [water fluoridation] is typically less than the cost of one dental filling, to repair one decayed tooth,” that organization said, in its publication “Water Fluoridation: Nature’s Way to Prevent Tooth Decay.”
“For most cities, every $1 invested in community water fluoridation saves $38 in dental treatment costs,” the ADA continued. “Through fluoridation, communities can improve the oral health of their residents and save money, for all of us.”
According to the Florida Journal of Environmental Health, in 1995, scientists testified before Congress that national savings from water fluoridation totaled more than $3.8 billion, each year.
The Campaign for Dental Health pointed out that public water fluoridation allows low-income individuals to receive benefits they may not have been able to take advantage of, otherwise.
“Fluoridation reduces the disparities in tooth decay rates that exist by race, ethnicity and income,” that organization said. “There is no practical alternative to water fluoridation, for reducing these disparities in the United States.”
Maussner’s documents cited an article, written by Ethan Huff of Natural News, about the dangers of fluoridated water. “There simply is no legitimate reason to fluoridate water,” Huff said. “Political pressure and bad science have continued to justify water fluoridation in most major cities, despite growing mountains of evidence, showing its dangers.”
More information about the medical side effects of fluoride, as well as its dental uses, will be printed in an upcoming edition of the Springville Journal.
“It is our hope that, after all those who wield the power to make this decision have informed themselves sufficiently on the topic, that a decision will be made, to discontinue water fluoridation,” Maussner said.
“If, however, this does not happen, we will seek, by all means necessary, to bring about a referendum, so that the will of the people can be heard and acted upon.”
For more information about the ADA, visit www.ada.org. For more information about the FAN, visit www.fluoridealert.org.