State oral health director challenged over comments about fluoridation
EUREKA SPRINGS -- The battle against mandated fluoridation in the State of Arkansas has again been enjoined by concerned citizens, who are challenging recent statements made by the state's oral health director.
A letter dated Feb. 19, 2009, by Hot Springs attorney Janie Evins, representing a group of concerned citizens, challenged State Oral Health Director Lynn Mouden on several statements he made while testifying before the House and Senate Interim Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor on Dec. 18, 2008.
A copy of the letter was forwarded to the Carroll-Boone Water District (CBWD), who provides unfluoridated water to its four member cities of Eureka Springs, Berryville, Green Forest and Harrison and their subsidiaries.
In the letter, Evins demands retraction of eight "false or misleading statements" about fluoridation made as fact, and not opinion, in Mouden's position as a dentist and public servant. It demands he either state they are his opinion, or if fact, support them with scientific proof, or retract them. He had five working days to respond or the citizens would take further action.
Evins says Mouden's use of his membership in the state and national dental associations and his public servant position to promote fluoridation is unethical and "likely to mislead or deceive because of a failure to disclose material facts" about fluoridation.
The result of unfairly influencing a positive outcome toward mandated fluoridation, she says, will place an undue burden upon the state's citizens to purchase costly devices to remove fluoride from their water if they don't want it.
Her letter challenges the truth in several of Mouden's statements, such as that fluoridation is "merely the intentional upward adjustment" of a naturally occurring fluoride ion. It omits that other toxic chemicals, such as arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury, included in the industrial waste fluoride product, would also be added to the water.
Also challenged is Mouden's statement that "tooth decay is a fluoride deficiency disease," as though fluoride were an essential vitamin.
In 2008, CBWD Office Manager and Water Operator Jim Allison and 10 other water operators at Carroll-Boone wrote a letter to Mouden asking, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), whether new legislation was afoot in the state legislature to require fluoridation of the water supply and whether affected parties, such as water district operators, would be notified.
He and the water operators expressed their "adamant opposition" to mandated fluoridation.
The only response they received was a statement that their questions did not fall under the FOIA.
The fluoridation issue has been on the table for CBWD's member cities twice before but was defeated both times.
"All the cities wanted it except Eureka Springs," Allison said. "It was their city councils that voted for it, but in Eureka they decided it was important enough to let the people decide, and the people turned it down."
Eureka's veto was enough to defeat it.
"We told the cities they were welcome to fluoridate the water when it gets to them, but none of them wanted to do that," Allison said.
Eureka Springs is not the only Arkansas city who turned the vote over to the people. Crystal Harvey of Hot Springs is an avid opponent of mandated medication of the pubic water supply to prevent or treat disease without solid scientific data of its safety and effectiveness and citizen support. She collected petitions which forced the Hot Springs city council to put the issue to a referendum vote. Citizens voted it down.
The measure has also been defeated in other cities, such as Texarkana, where the citizens, as opposed to the city council, were allowed to vote on it.
Harvey said she is not against people choosing to use fluoride. They can get it from their dentists or from department stores and use toothpaste that contains it.
"I'm not anti-fluoride," she said. "I'm anti-water fluoridation. I am anti-medicating people without their consent."
Harvey said Evins received a response March 4 from Deputy General Counsel Reginald A. Rogers of the Arkansas Health Department.
Rogers does not respond to the demands in Evins' letter for proof of Mouden's statements but merely states, "The comments made by Dr. Lynn Mouden . . . are consistent with credible scientific evidence. Community water fluoridation has been proven in scientific research and practical experience for more than 60 years in the U.S. as being safe and effective. While your client may disagree with some statements made, we base our policy on proven science."
Harvey said that as Mouden missed the deadline, she sent a copy of Evins' letter to the governor's office.
State Representative Mike Burris has filed Bill #1804 for the state legislature this year that will require public water operators not to introduce any chemical additive for the treatment or prevention of a disease without obtaining product review data and making it available to the public.
The chemical must also meet the product classification standard of the American Water Works Association. Water operators violating this law would be liable to pay court costs for enforcement of the law.
(Editor's note: For an explanation by Crystal Harvey of why Bill #1804 is important, click here.)