Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2013, 10:15 pm

Water-flouridation critic encourages debate at Q-C presentation

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By Jeff Dick, correspondent@qconline.com

"Let's have the debate" was the challenge water-fluoridation critic Paul Connett, a retired chemistry professor and author of "The Case Against Fluoride," extended to an attentive audience on Monday night at the Bettendorf Public Library.

In the first of two Quad-Cities presentations planned by Mr. Connett, he laid the foundation for a public forum planned at 6:30 p.m. today at the Moline Public Library, 3210 41st Ave. He invited fluoridation proponents and dentists to defend the widespread practice hecontends has been tied to bone cancer, lower IQs, arthritis, osteoporosis and other maladies.

Mr. Connett said cavity rates are not significantly lower in cities with fluoridated water. The fluoride added to drinking water is industrial not pharmaceutical grade, he said, containing toxins such arsenic, lead, cadmium and barium.

Hisassertion that fluoride is a hazardous, unregulated industrial-waste byproduct has been disputed by health professionals and found to be untrue by PolitiFact.com, a fact-checking website.

Not in dispute is that too much fluoride -- more than the recommended 0.7 to 1.2 parts per million per liter of water -- can cause fluorosis. The cosmetic condition is marked by teeth staining in kids forming their adult teeth.

While fluoride is naturally present in fresh water, some untreated water -- especially from deep wells -- may contain higher than recommended levels, he said. Fluoride also is present in processed foods and beverages, as well as topical products such as toothpaste and mouthwash.

Water fluoridation, a process regulating the amount of fluoride in drinking water, first was introduced in Grand Rapids, Mich., in 1945. A decade later, incidents of tooth decay had declined by 60 percent in local children.

As a result, several major cities opted for fluoridation during the 1950s and 1960s. That number has grown steadily, with roughly 70 percent of American communities using the process.

On his website (fluoridealert.org), Mr. Connett cites more than a dozen major international cities that do not practice fluoridation. But other than Wichita, Albuquerque and Fairbanks, not many prominent American cities are listed.

Fluoridation supporters -- including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Dental Association and the World Health Organization -- contend appropriate fluoride levels in public drinking water significantly lower the incidents of tooth decay, particularly in kids.

In his Monday presentation, Mr. Connett railed against the medical establishment for not acknowledging studies he claimed show the dangers of fluoridation, even raising the specter of a conspiracy to suppress the findings.

Organizing citizen opposition to changing longstanding Quad-Cities fluoridation policies closed out Monday's presentation.