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|Thompson defends floridation measure|
A proposal to require some municipal water systems to maintain fluoride levels in drinking water is being touted as necessary by some legislator while simultaneously being labeled as "draconian" by a citizens watchdog group.
State Sen. Francis Thompson said Senate Bill 312 would mean healthier teeth for children across the state and that's important because, according to Thompson, many children do not brush properly.
"The water they drink will sustain their teeth until they get to school and can get proper attention," said Thompson, D-Delhi.
However, a citizens advocacy group opposes the legislation because of what that group said were negative side effects of fluoridation.
Fluoride is a compound dentists have long-touted as beneficial to maintaining healthy teeth. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, many municipal water systems began putting the compound in drinking water.
Dr. Paul Connett, of the Fluoride Action Network, said passing SB 312 would be a mistake for children and families.
Connett said he was disturbed by the lack of opposition to the proposal, which the House of Representatives is expected to consider Thursday (today).
"If they get it Thursday, then Louisiana is saddled with mandatory fluoridation," said Connett, who holds a Ph.D. in environmental chemistry and toxicology.
Connett cautioned legislators against fluoridation in an e-mail, which he forwarded to The Ouachita Citizen.
Connett said recent studies indicate fluoride in drinking water can have an adverse affect on the developing brains of young children.
"We are giving our babies 250 times more fluoride than nature intended at a time when the blood brain barrier is not fully formed," said Connett. "That simply is not a wise thing to do, especially now that we have over 40 animal studies which indicate that fluoride damages the brain and 18 studies -- three published last year alone -- which show that fluoride lowers the IQ in children at levels as low as 1.8 parts per million."
Connett's group has been working to raise awareness of the ill effects of fluoridation. He hopes Thursday's vote on SB 312 would draw attention to the issue of mandatory fluoridation.
Thompson was quick to point out that SB 312 entails an opt-out clause for municipalities and only affects water systems with more than 5,000 customers.
"Under this law, if you don't have the ability or money to do it, then you don't have to do it," Thompson said.
SB 312 also makes room for municipalities to avoid fluoridation by popular vote in a general election.
Thompson said that, because SB 312 compliance is optional, the bill was a good one.
"There's no downside unless you don't pass it and then kids and the elderly people won't get the fluoride they need," Thompson said.