Local group rallies against fluoride in Orange County water

A number of local activists took to the sidewalks outside of Chapel Hill Town Hall on the evening of Thursday, August 24th, to protest the OWASA board's continued fluoridation of Orange County water sources.

CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, the day of the protest was incorrect, it was taken place on Thursday. A word in a quote was misunderstood. The article has been updated to reflect these changes.

The Fluoride Free Chapel Hill/Carrboro (FFCC)rallied outside Chapel Hill Town Hall to protest against the fluoride in Orange County's water Thursday night. 

The protests came in response to a cancelled meeting set for Aug. 24 by the Orange County Water and Sewage Authority's Board of Directors, in which members of the community planned to address the fluorinated water issue. OWASA cancelled all their summer meetings, making it three months without an opportunity for residents to voice their concerns in a public comment meeting.

“Anybody that wants it, wants to put it on topically; that’s your business. You can go to a dentist who will give you a fluoride tray who will put it in there, but don’t put it in the water and medicate me without my permission,” said Mike Willock, a protester and dentist of 28 years.

OWASA suspended fluoridation after the fluoride overfeed, or the OWASA water crises, this past February. Yet on March 9 they decided to resume with the chemical for some time in September. 

“The OWASA Board received numerous comments and questions regarding fluoridation in 2013 and in 2017, we welcome public discussion of the community’s water and water resources,” Greg Feller, OWASA’s public affairs administrator, said.

Daria Barazandeh, founder of FFCC, said she wants OWASA to look into the science and health implications of fluoride.

“They suddenly cancelled the meeting saying they don’t have anything on their agenda, but how is that possible that they can be on recess all summer and there’s nothing on their agenda,” she said. “We took that as they are trying to silence us.”

Barazandeh said It's not sufficient for OWASA to only use the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Public Health Service as references for making safe water.

"They don't want to look into any science or do any homework; they just want to go by whatever's being endorsed," she said. 

Willock said he thinks fluoride is toxic and that there's no proof that fluoride helps anything.

“It’s an endocrine disruptor; it kicks the iodine off your thyroid; it makes the brain docile; it affects nervous tissue; it can affect your bones,” Willock said. 

Barazandeh said the FDA has labeled fluoride as a medication, therefore OWASA is violating human rights by medicating the community without consent. 

“We’ve been going to the meetings and speaking up, but they don’t say anything in return; they just kind of ignore it," she said. "But we’re getting larger and larger, and they’re going to have to deal with us because there’s going to be public pressure to do so.”  

Feller said OWASA will continue to monitor scientific developments, best practices and recommendations regarding fluoridation.

Barazandeh said she hopes to bring awareness to the issue. 

“What our message to them is, is that we are not just a few fringe anarchist crazy people that they would like to brush off, but that this is a really serious health concern,” she said. 


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