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View Point

By Ruth Ellen Lindenberg

Saturday, February 24, 2001

Don’t let fluoride
bill languish
another year

It is spring and the state Legislature is in session. Time for the annual resurgence of bills for fluoridation of Hawaii's water.

The usual majority who assume that any future-minded state would pass a fluoridation bill and get on with other business do not call their legislators to make their wishes known.

It's the usual small but vocal minority who actually show up at legislators' offices and at committee hearings decrying fluoridation.

They have various unsubstantiated reasons. They say fluoridation can cause cancer, kidney disease, mental retardation and even corrode plumbing in the bathroom.

Myths abide and each year the battle is won, not by the majority who look at scientific evidence but by a small vocal minority.

Let's look at some of the research that has been done on the effects of fluoridation.

Bullet Fluoridation is endorsed by a large number of scientific organizations after years of study and the conclusion is that it is safe for ourselves and our children. It has been endorsed by the U.S. Public Health Service, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization and even the American Dental Association, whose future dentists would certainly find fewer cavities to fill in our children.

Bullet Great Britain just completed a 50-year review of research and advocates nationwide fluoridation.

Bullet Data cited on the negative effects of fluoridation is limited, often the opinion of a single individual or a small group not relying on scientific studies but random opinion. Where are the long-range studies that provide scientific evidence? A recent article by a professor of horticulture at our university has indicated that the accumulation of fluoride in the soil over a period of time could have an adverse effect upon some ornamentals like dracaena and ti. Which is more precious to us in Hawaii -- dracaena or the oral health of future generations?

Bullet Nationwide statistics show that Hawaii's children have among the highest rates of dental decay. This state's elementary school children, to be more specific, have decay rates twice the U.S. average.

Bullet Community water fluoridation is one of the most significant public health advances of the century. Hawaii's Health Department endorses fluoridation, citing that alternative proposals do not address the known fact that measures such as fluoride applications in a dentist's office or fluoride tablets do not substitute for daily fluoride in the water over a period of critical years in a child's life.

Bullet Dental care for low-income adults is unavailable in our state. There is no dental assistance program despite bills in the Legislature each year advocating this. The Legislature and the broader community face the possibility that, once again, the issue of fluoridation will be swept under the rug until it resurfaces in another spring.

Do you think that fluoridation is important for the future of our children? Calls to your legislators saying that you want fluoridation in 2001 can help to salvage the bill, save money for the state and help Hawaii's children.

Telephone the state Capitol Access Room at 587-0478 for the names and phone numbers of the senators and representatives in your district and give them calls immediately.

Ruth Ellen Lindenberg is an active member
of the Hawaii chapter of the American
Association of Retired Persons.

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