Fluoride Action Network

 January 12, 2011

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FAN US & CANADIAN LEADERS
 
If you would like to start or join a local campaign to end fluoridation please first use our State and Regional Coordinator map to locate a FAN coordinator near you.  If one does not exist in your area, then please contact our Campaign Manager.

Greetings!

 

We are starting 2012 with a major opportunity in the state of New Hampshire.  This legislative session there are two separate bills in the State Legislature prohibiting the addition of fluoride to drinking water within the state.

 

The first bill, HB1529, relative to the introduction of fluoride and herbicides into the drinking water of the state, prohibits fluoridation as well as adding herbicides in drinking water sources for milfoil eradication.  The public hearing for this bill has not been scheduled, but it has been referred to the same committee as the second bill.

 

The second bill and the most promising is HB1416, relative to the introduction of substances into the New Hampshire public water supply.  This bill expressly prohibits fluoridation and also prohibits adding any chemicals to drinking water for medical or therapeutic purposes (such as fluoride & lithium).  The bill was referred to the House Resources, Recreation, and Development committee.  HB1416 was introduced by Representative Anne Cartwright (R) who lives in the city of Manchester, which uses fluorosilicic acid.  She became aware of the issue when we introduced our infant warning bill in New Hampshire last legislative session.  We worked together to draft the language and find initial support for the bill.

 

On Tuesday, January 10th, the public hearing was held on HB1416.  All but 3 of the 17 committee members were present, including one of the bill's co-sponsors, Rep. Pettengill, who sits on the committee.  Speakers in favor of the bill were:

 

-4 NH Representatives: Cartwright, Mirski, Kingsbury, Pettengill
 
-Stuart Cooper (FAN's Campaign Manager - spoke and answered questions for at least 20 minutes)
 
--Roger Masters, PhD (of Dartmouth College & Co-author of the Coplan/Master study that found increased lead uptake in communities using inorganic fluorides)

 

Written testimony in favor was also submitted by a local doctor, a public health nurse, and a mother from Dover whose children have been overexposed to fluoride from their drinking water.
  

Speakers in opposition to the bill were: 

  

-NH Dental Association
-NH Oral Health Coalition
-NH Public Health Association
-NH Dept. of Health and Human Services
-3 separate pediatricians (NH public health members)
-NH Children's Alliance
-Manchester's Public Health Director  
-NH Department of Environmental Services
-American Water Works Association (along with 2 individual water companies who are member of the AWWA)  
-NH Rural Water Association
-NH Municipal Association

The public health organizations read the standard CDC talking points on fluoridation, repeating themselves over and over again, particularly the claim that fluoridation is "one of the top ten public health achievements ever."  The cost savings of $38 per person was also repeated often, as was the claim that there are hundreds, if not thousands of studies showing fluoride is both safe and effective...without reference to any.  Here's an example of the testimony against the bill from the NH Children's Alliance, which collaborates with the PEW Charitable Trusts.

The NH Dept. of Environmental services, as well as all of the water works companies and associations, opposed the bill because of concerns about the language of the bill, not about our opposition to fluoridation. They are rightly concerned that "potable water" is currently undefined in NH statutes and this bill could inadvertently prohibit chemicals to control odor, turbidity and clarity. The sponsors and myself agreed that this was not our intention and that we were suggesting an amendment to that section of the bill and would present it at subcommittee hearings.

All of the committee members were given a double-sided sheet of paper with 20 Questions to Ask Proponents of Fluoridation, prior to the public hearing. This was very helpful in giving our supporters on the committee an opportunity to show the weaknesses in our opponent's arguments. The most popular questions asked by legislators during the hearing:

--Do you know of any other medicine in which we don't bother about controlling dose?

--There is no other medicine we put in the drinking water?

--Do you agree that American children are getting too much fluoride today as evidenced by high dental fluorosis rates? Are you aware of the CDC (2010) report that indicates that 41% of American children aged 12-15 have some form of dental fluorosis?

--Does systemic fluoride supplementation require a prescription? How much can you prescribe to infants? Adults?

--If it isn't recommended that you prescribe to infants, then how can you justify putting it in the water for mothers to use for formula, especially without the supervision of a doctor?

--If it's recommended that adults consume 1mg of fluoride a day in prescription form, how can you justify 1mg of fluoride per liter of tap water when you can't control how many liters people are consuming?

The medical professionals who answered these questions admitted that they cannot control dose, and that some people "might be at elevated risk of fluorosis" but that the "only side effect was fluorosis, and its merely cosmetic, and can often make teeth look more white and better."  When answering questions about infants the pediatricians simply said, "if mothers are concerned about fluorosis, they can use bottled water in their formula." These answers actually seemed to help us with the committee members. One mentioned that her daughter's friend has fluorosis and that it was really "awful looking" and had a major impact on the girl's confidence. Another legislator commented that people shouldn't have to use bottled water to make infant formula. Legislators really seemed to hone in on the ethical question of adding substances to drinking water, as well as the overexposure to children, particularly infants.

After the hearing the Chairman of the committee announced that he would create a balanced subcommittee to discuss and research this bill further.  I expect the subcommittee members to be announced on Friday, and for the subcommittee to start meeting sometime next week.  The full committee will likely vote on the subcommittee's recommendation before February.

 

If you live, vacation, or work in New Hampshire and would like to help by contacting committee members, please send me an email, and I will make sure you are added to the NH Action list.  I would like to urge FAN supporters to hold off on sending emails to the committee members until we are closer to the full committee vote (another week or two).  Right  now they are still hearing from medical and scientific professionals, as well as local constituents who support the bill.  Legislators have made it clear that if they get hundreds of emails for an issue they will simply delete them and mark them as spam, which will stifle communications from key experts and local residents.  

 

If you are a NH resident, a victim of fluoride overexposure, or a medical or scientific expert and would like to communicate your support for HB1416 to the committee, the best way to accomplish this for now would be to send the members hardcopy letters.  Legislators are looking for science and medical opinions and evidence.  They would like to keep emotion out of this debate if they can.  Please take this into consideration when writing to committee members.

 

Sincerely, 

 

Stuart Cooper

Campaign Manager

Fluoride Action Network