Stanly commissioners hear views on fluoride in water

Fluoridation of drinking water was discussed at length at Monday’s meeting of the Stanly County Board of Commissioners.

Harold Schomecker spoke to commissioners with an update regarding a recent decision by Union County commissioners to remove fluoride from municipal drinking water.

Schomecker said he was coming before the board “as a citizen and not as an expert. I am a messenger of what I’ve learned and what’s happened in Union County.”

He said his information comes from experts, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Schomecker said the CDC reports fluoridation reduces cavities by 25%.

“That’s pretty horrible. No new drug can get approved with 25 percent efficacy,” he said. “I don’t think that is enough of a weight to bypass informed consent.”

He said 274 communities since 2010 have ended water fluoridation in their systems, and quoted information from Greenwood County, South Carolina, who he said “felt the benefits of corrosion control outweigh the benefits of fluoride. So fluoride causes corrosion in the pipes and creates a lead issue.”

Schomecker spoke about various studies regarding the effects of fluoride.

Commissioner Peter Asciutto said Union County’s vote “was not based on science; it was based on medical freedom.” He asked Schomecker, “Can you show us something where the government, or a medical dentist or someone supports your theories?”

Schomecker said his information came from two medical doctors, the CDC, FDA and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Asciutto asked why the CDC had not sent the information to local health departments.

“Show me a health department who has approved getting rid of this,” Asciutto said.

Schomecker disputed Asciutto’s assertion of Union’s decision, saying they listed different reasons like freedom of choice or the power of a county commission “to prescribe medication for its people.” He said it was “a toxicology issue.”

Commissioner Patty Crump thanked Schomecker.

“I think it’s good to have an open mind and open ears to hear all sides of an issue,”Crump said.

She said commissioners can’t take action because the water provided for county residents comes from the water treatment plants at Albemarle and Norwood.

Dr. Tom Norwood, a retired Norwood dentist, spoke in public comments supporting fluoride, saying residents with well water have more tooth decay and “more trauma and restoration done” than those on municipal water.

Also in public comments, retired chemistry teacher Dr. Jim Beard, a resident of Albemarle, said fluoride was first used in public water in 1945 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He said the CDC stated fluoridated water “was one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century.”

Beard equated fluoride in drinking water to seat belt laws, saying citizens do not get to decide everything for themselves.

Dr. John Risley, a former UNC-Charlotte chemistry professor and Richfield resident, said fluoride is only toxic at a certain amount. Risley said a 50-pound child would have to drink 450 gallons of municipal water in one setting to reach the toxic level. For a 120-pound woman, it would be 1,100 gallons, and for a 200-pound man, about 1,800 gallons.

“A man, woman or child would die from water poisoning long before the small amount of fluoride in municipal drinking water would have any effect,” Risley said.