Apr 18, 2011

Civil Rights Leaders Ask Georgia Legislature to Halt Water Fluoridation

Request comes over concern that fluoride disproportionately affects black families

Due to concerns that fluoride may disproportionately harm poor citizens and black families, Atlanta civil rights leaders Andrew Young and Dr. Gerald Durley have asked Georgia legislators to repeal the state's mandatory water fluoridation law, according to the Fluoride Action Network (FAN).

Young, a former UN ambassador and former Atlanta mayor, along with Durley, pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Atlanta, both inductees in the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame, expressed concerns about the fairness, safety and full disclosure regarding fluoridation in letters to the state's minority and majority legislative leaders.

Fluoride chemicals, added to 96% of Georgia's public drinking water supplies, are meant to prevent tooth decay, especially in the poor. According to FAN, however, 61% of low-income Georgia third graders have tooth decay, compared to 51% from higher income families.

Studies show that despite fluoridation, tooth decay and fluoride overexposure symptoms, like dental fluorsis or discolored teeth, are more common in blacks.

Ambassador Young wrote, "I am most deeply concerned for poor families who have babies: If they cannot afford unfluoridated water for their babies' milk formula, do their babies not count?” Young wrote in his letter to the legislature. “Of course they do. This is an issue of fairness, civil rights, and compassion. We must find better ways to prevent cavities, such as helping those most at risk for cavities obtain access to the services of a dentist."

"I support the holding of Fluoridegate hearings at the state and national level so we can learn why we haven't been openly told that fluorides build up in the body over time (and) why our government agencies haven't told the black community openly that fluorides disproportionately harm black Americans," Durley wrote in his letter to legislators.

Young stated, "My father was a dentist. I formerly was a strong believer in the benefits of water fluoridation for preventing cavities. But many things that we began to do 50 or more years ago we now no longer do, because we have learned further information that changes our practices and policies. So it is with fluoridation."