Secure Arkansas

Arkansas State Fluoridation Mandate is Underfunded, Wasteful, Complex and Shortsighted

Posted On: March 12, 2012

After an article written by Sarah Wire of the Arkansas Gazette, appeared Sunday February 26, 2012, regarding the costs of Arkansas’ recently-passed fluoridation law, four things come to mind: It’s underfunded, wasteful, too complex and shortsighted.  It was a huge mistake to fast-track this legislation without hearing from water industry professionals.

Underfunded: Projections of $500,000 to cover 34 Water Systems which was raised to 2 million dollars still is not even close. It has been estimated that it will cost CBWD (Eureka Springs) $1.23 million to add the fluoridation equipment and necessary infrastructure. Some legislators have said they were told by lobbyists for fluoridation that the mandate would not cost the taxpayers or increase customers’ water bills, yet Delta Dental has only agreed to fund $763,605.  The article stated that Mr. Ed Choate would ask Delta Dental Foundation for a pledge of 10 million dollars. Don’t you think it would be easier and much more logical for a dental insurance company to offer 10 million dollars of dental insurance or treatment to the children of Arkansas or lower rates so more people could afford dentistry? Instead they want to waste that money on forcing everyone to have hydrofluosilicic acid, aka fluoride, and interfere with water districts which are concentrating on providing safe drinking water. Arkansas children are not lacking fluoride they are lacking dentists that provide dental care. If they are so concerned in helping the poor children why do most dentists not take medicaid? They brag about their free dental clinic for the uninsured once a year in Little Rock, which has been fluoridated for over 50 years. If water fluoridation was working, we wouldn’t be having an epidemic of tooth decay in Little Rock. Dentists are still making tons of money in their private practices!

Beyond the fluoridation start-up costs, there are continued chemical costs ($20,000 a year for CBWD), engineering costs, training, monitoring, management, repair and equipment replacement costs to keep the fluoridation flowing.

Added to that is the cost of accelerated corrosion to water distribution pipes/systems/infrastructure due to the highly corrosive nature of the fluoridation chemical hydrofluosilicic acid.

Then there are health and safety compliance costs, environmental regulatory related costs, and municipal liability costs assumed when a community decides to fluoridate and chooses what fluoridation chemical to use.

The cost of treating dental fluorosis caused by water fluoridation should also be considered. One in ten children nowadays have objectionable fluorosis from fluoridation for which they seek dental treatment. The treatments can range from $500 per person for simple microabrasion and bleaching to $20,000 per person for caps or veneers. Delta Dental WILL NOT pay for treatment due to damage from fluoride.

It is pure propaganda for the dental groups to claim savings of $38 for each $1 invested in fluoridation.

Wasteful: Even if fluoride was helpful to teeth, distributing any drug in drinking water is the most expensive and wasteful method. Quote from a Arkansas engineer “As a civil engineer, I know that people drink only 1/2% (one-half percent) of the water they use. The remaining 99½ % of the water with this toxic fluoride chemical hexafluorosilicic acid, (which is waste material flushed directly from industrial smokestacks) is dumped directly into the environment through the sewer system. The company CEO would be arrested immediately if they dumped this toxic waste into a river. The only way they can do it legally is to run it through the community water system first.

For example, for every $1000 of fluoride chemical added to water, $995 would be directly wasted down the drain in toilets, showers, dishwashers, etc., $5 would be consumed in water by the people, and less than $0.50 (fifty cents) would be consumed by children, the target group for this outdated practice.

That would be comparable to buying one gallon of milk, using six-and-one-half drops of it, and pouring the rest of the gallon in the sink.

Fluoridation surely is in contention as the most wasteful government program. Giving away fluoride tablets free to anyone who wants them would be far cheaper and certainly more ethical because then we would have the freedom to choose which prescription drug we take.

Also, there is significant cost to taxpayers for the continual federal/state public health marketing and promotion of water fluoridation.

After adding all these costs into the “mix”, water fluoridation actually saves us NOTHING.

Fluoridation ends up costing taxpayers more money than it ever saves.

Complex:  Rep. Kelley Linck said it was presented as a simple bill, but in reality it becomes quite complex. It seems Delta Dental is making decisions on safety equipment based on cost, not on what’s best for water employees who handle the chemicals or consumers’ safety.

Delta Dental Committee consists of Ed Choate, President of Delta Dental; Dennis Sternberg, Executive Director of Arkansas Rural Water Association; Jim Ferguson P.E., Director of Engineering, Central Arkansas Water; Glen Greenway, P.E. with Arkansas Department of Health; Lynn Mouden, DDS, former Director of Office of Oral Health and Board Member of Delta Dental Foundation and Edie Arey, who is Professional Relations Director for Delta Dental.

These are the people charged with the responsibility of giving the water operators the necessary tools to perform their highly important jobs safely and properly while in 34 different water districts they are refusing to pay for needed equipment with a very simple budget. The Arkansas Department of Health adopted the phrase “Simpler is Better”.

Shortsighted:  Legislators who passed this law clearly do not understand the complex nature of water chemistry. They do not understand that every chemical you add to a treatment process directly affects other chemicals you use in your disinfection process. They don’t fully understand the science of adding a highly acidic chemical like fluoride,  (pH 2 to 3), to the treatment process which will depress the water pH and make it necessary to add additional chemicals to raise the waters pH again into good quality water parameters. As you can well see, after the fluoride is added, it requires MORE treatment, MORE equipment, MORE chemicals and MORE money.

We have spoken to several people from the water industry who told us,”This couldn’t be a worse time to implement a change in a water treatment process. On April 1, 2012 Federal Regulation Stage 2 Disinfectant and Disinfection Byproduct Rule (S2DBPR) goes into effect. It establishes new criteria which tightens regulations on trihalomethanes (TTHM) and Haloacetic Acids (HAA5) which are Federally regulated carcinogens.”

One of the best ways to lower disinfection byproducts in treatment plants which exceed the limit is switching from free chlorine in the disinfection process to producing chloramines when leaving the plant and into the distribution system. The addition of ammonia, at the proper ratio is what produces the chloramines.

The correct ratio of ammonia to chlorine will produce monochloramines, which is what you are looking for in the water chemistry makeup. This is where an operator must practice due diligence in  monitoring all his chemical feeds. If the ratio is off, it creates dichloramines and trichloramines which have a tendency to break down forming disinfection byproducts. Trihalomethanes above the major contaminant level damage the liver, kidneys and affects the central nervous system. Haloacetic Acid is a carcinogen that causes cancer.

“The changes in treatment process to meet the new (S2DBPR) and building new structures and adding mandated fluoridation is not a one-shoe-fits-all process. It takes a strict scientific approach and proven water industry standards to produce a clean, safe pleasant water supply to drink, bathe, cook and enjoy.”

We would like to think that the Representatives and Senators wouldn’t have moved so swiftly and so convincingly if they would have allowed professionals from the water industry to testify before the Arkansas Legislature, which would have allowed them to make an informed decision.

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