Resident raises fluoride concerns

Stephanie Gomes

Wilda Quisenberry of Morton is worried about the chemicals in her tap water, so the 83-year-old is on a mission.

With flyers in hand and a strong point of view, she showed up at the last village board meeting with her own agenda. 

Quisenberry’s stance: “Fluoride is poison. It should not be in our drinking water.”

The ongoing debate about water fluoridation is nothing new.

It has been used in the U.S. for more than 50 years as a safe and inexpensive way to prevent tooth decay, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The state requires that community water systems add fluoride to prevent tooth cavities,” said David Cook, Springfield regional manager of the division of public water supplies with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Regulations recommend levels of 0.9 milligrams to 1.2 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water, Cook said.

While many experts consider community water fluoridation a great public health achievement, there are those — like Quisenberry — who remain concerned.

“There is so much cancer in the U.S.,” Quisenberry said. “And there’s an awful lot of autism in children these days.”

She said she believes both medical conditions could be linked to fluoride.

Other concerns regard freedom-of-choice issues.

“Europe has outlawed (water fluoridation),” she said. “(We) need to take it out of our water.”

Dr. William Johnson, a dentist in Morton, said he does not consider himself an expert on fluoridation, but believes there are many dental benefits in allowing safe levels in drinking water.

“I considered it settled science,” Johnson said. “But, there are people who don’t believe that.”

Added Johnson, “Really, the problem is the excess, not the fluoride itself. They actually should be much more concerned about adding chlorine than fluoride.”

Research shows that some water sources have fluoride levels higher than 1.2 mg/L. The U.S. EPA has set a maximum amount of 4.0 mg/L allowed in drinking water.

The debate remains an unanswered one, and the proven oral benefits seem to outweigh the suspected dangers, according to the experts.

“You have to prove that it does do something,” Johnson said, adding that the negative effects have yet to be proven.

As for Quisenberry, she said she continues to drink her tap water because she does not trust the regulations of bottled water.

Her next step is to garner more support in the community.

“I might make some more copies and pass them out,” she said.