MEMPHIS - Rev. William Owens, President of the Coalition of African American Pastors, is joining a growing chorus of leaders calling for federal and state hearings and investigations into new revelations about risks from drinking fluoridated water.
Owens wants to know why important fluoride information wasn't shared with African American leaders and citizens, and is especially concerned about fluoride impacts on poor and inner city families.
"There are so many issues that need to be addressed in Fluoridegate investigations," he states. "This is very disturbing."
"Why wasn't the black community told that blacks are disproportionately impacted by harm from fluorides and fluoridated water? Nobody told me until I learned about this a year ago. African Americans have more kidney disease and more diabetes, but nobody elected to tell us that kidney patients and diabetics are more susceptible to harm from ingested fluorides."
In 2006 the National Research Council published a report that listed diabetics, kidney patients, babies and children, seniors, and outdoor workers as "susceptible subpopulations" that are especially vulnerable to harm from fluorides.
Owens also wants to know why the Centers for Disease Control didn't issue a press release when it changed its stance about mixing baby formula with fluoridated water after the NRC report was issued.
Shortly after the NRC report was published the CDC posted deep inside its website a statement about children potentially developing permanent staining of teeth called "dental fluorosis" if fluoridated water is used to mix baby formula.
"Do you know how many millions of moms and dads are going to their kitchen sink every day to get water for baby formula? This affects a lot of people. Why no press release?" he asks.
"What are poor families to do if they can't afford unfluoridated water? How are they to learn the information about fluorosis? How are they to pay to repair the stains on their teeth?"
"What about the kidney risks and concerns about IQ impacts?" he continues. "Does the Center for Disease Control really think that fluorides miraculously only affect teeth in the mouth and don't impact the rest of the body?"
Owens is an outspoken advocate for assisting children in their education and is concerned about reports of IQ impacts from children ingesting fluorides.
A recent study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, a publication of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, documented diminished IQ in children from fluorides in water.
In 2009 a study in the Journal of Public Health Dentistry noted that black children ingest significantly more fluorides than white children.
The 2006 NRC report included a statement that, "More research is needed to clarify fluoride's biochemical effects on the brain."
CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published data in 2005 showing that blacks have significantly more of the worst forms of dental fluorosis than whites. Owens wants to know why African Americans leaders weren't openly given this and other important information.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proposed somewhat reducing the level of fluoride in water in a statement on January 7, 2011.
The HHS actions don't go far enough, according to Rev. Owens, citing the issue that some people drink dramatically more water than others, have medical susceptibilities to fluorides, and have numerous other uncontrolled sources of fluoride in their diet.
"We need to investigate this Fluoridegate mess. This is a civil rights and environmental justice issue. We don't need just a little less fluoride in water. Fluoridation needs to end," he says firmly.