Some members of the Dallas City Council are set to consider whether the City of Dallas should keep putting fluoride in the municipal water system.
The issue was recently raised at a Quality of Life, Arts, & Culture Committee meeting on October 16, as previously covered by The Dallas Express.
Experts presented council members with the purported benefits of water fluoridation, but the committee chair, Council Member Adam Bazaldua (District 7), said he would prefer a “less opinionated” presentation and would like the committee to hear both sides of the fluoridation debate.
Both Bazaldua and Council Member Paula Blackmon (District 9) questioned whether fluoridation is genuinely in the best interest of the people or whether it is merely a continuation of a decades-old practice.
Water fluoridation in Dallas will be discussed again at the upcoming Quality of Life committee meeting on November 7. Anti-fluoridation advocates from across the country now have their eyes on Dallas.
Long-time anti-fluoridation advocate Dr. Griffin Cole, who practiced dentistry in Austin for nearly 30 years, will be flying from Colorado to testify before the committee about what he claims are the harmful effects of fluoridation.
“I, along with every other dentist out there, was taught in dental school that fluoride is good for us, that it’s necessary to have healthy teeth, and that we should absolutely both apply it topically in our toothpaste and drink it in our water supply,” he said in an interview with The Dallas Express.
Cole asserted that anyone who truly digs into the science will find that this is not true.
“When you drink water with fluoride, you’re getting a systemic effect. There’s no topical effect. It washes over the teeth so quickly there’s no effect,” he said. “So now the question is: if I drink it, and it’s in my body, how does it help me?”
“The short and simple answer is: it does not,” Cole continued. “It actually harms you. [It starts] with pregnant women who are drinking [fluoride] and their unborn babies are exposed to that, and then they’re being born with brain impairments.”
Dr. Cole said over 80 studies from all over the world have proved this claim. He added that the pro-fluoridation movement is largely driven by external funding rather than science, with the CDC at the forefront of the push. He shared a video with The Dallas Express that he recorded in response to a report by the National Toxicology Program on fluoridation.
“There’s no disputing anymore that we don’t have enough science to show that this stuff is harmful. It’s harmful,” he told The Dallas Express. “You don’t need to drink a single drop of water that has fluoride in it for any reason. There is no body process that requires fluoride. … It affects the thyroid gland, the pineal gland, your kidneys, and now your brain.”
“The bottom line is this: we need to stop this,” Dr. Cole continued. “Our country [has] more people drinking fluoridated water than the rest of the world combined. … Only 5% of the entire world fluoridates. … We’re the only country where we’re fluoridating 75% of the population. It’s unnecessary.”
“It’s time for us to step up to the plate and end this dated, unproven, and dangerous process,” he concluded.
Furthermore, Rick North, who has a background in nonprofits and health management, told The Dallas Express that for a long time, he took for granted that fluoridation was beneficial until he did more research.
North, who now volunteers with the Fluoride Action Network, affirmed Dr. Cole’s claim that most of the world does not fluoridate its water supply.
“Fluoridation is one of the most widely rejected practices in the world,” he said, later claiming there are “so many harmful effects from ingesting [fluoride].”
North said it is important to differentiate between ingesting fluoride and using fluoride in substances like toothpaste that are not ingested. When ingested, North said fluoride is “one of the most toxic substances I’ve ever seen, and I’ve done a lot of environmental health throughout my career.”
He said he watched the Quality of Life committee meeting from his home in Massachusetts. He wrote a page of rebuttals to the claims made by the pro-fluoridation presenters.
“I was chagrined at the amount of what I consider misinformation that the people on the panel were putting out,” he told The Dallas Express. “And I was encouraged by the City Council members about the questions they asked and the fact that they wanted to get both sides of the story. … This is what every city council should be doing.”
North said it is important for people to choose whether they want their water to be fluoridated rather than having officials make that decision.
“If people want fluoride, they can get it in toothpaste, rinses, [or] other ways,” he said. “The fluoridation takes away that choice. It’s wrong. You shouldn’t have to ingest a drug you don’t want.”
“It especially harms low-income families who can’t afford expensive filters,” North added. “The cheap countertop ones don’t work … [so] they don’t have any choice at all. That’s not right.”
Local anti-fluoridation activists have been petitioning the City Council to reconsider the practice for several years. At virtually every City Council meeting, someone addresses the council members during public comment to warn against the alleged harmful effects of fluoride.
Such activists have long said council members should put fluoridation on the ballot and let Dallas voters decide directly whether they want fluoride in their drinking water.
Local advocate Regina Imburgia told The Dallas Express that she and several other residents have been petitioning the City Council and have given “over 160 presentations to the council.”
Imburgia said she is “extremely optimistic” about the upcoming discussion about fluoridation in November.
“I know the truth. I know the facts are on our side,” she said. “I do believe already the majority of the population knows that it’s a dumb idea to put a toxin in the water to drink it. What I’m most hopeful and excited about is the fact that it will get air time.”
However, those who support fluoridation argue it has proven dental benefits, and some have argued that anti-fluoridation activists should not be taken seriously.
Dallas County Health and Human Services director Philip Huang characterized some of the negative assertions about fluoride as “scare tactics” during the last Quality of Life committee meeting.
Additionally, the former president of the Dallas County Dental Society, Mary Swift, argued that fluoride “helps teeth in two ways, topically and systemically.”
The ongoing debate about fluoridation and Dallas will continue at the Quality of Life committee meeting on November 7.
This article was updated at 12:50 p.m. on October 30 to reflect the fact that Rick North never lived in Dallas.