Health board didn’t follow law on adding fluoride


To the Editor:

Here are some facts about the fluoride order in Edgartown.

The board of health voted and posted the order without consulting the town, water department or selectmen, despite the state Department of Public Health’s recommendations. See Also see
When the order posting was discovered in the back of the Vineyard Gazette, many scrambled to interpret and understand the law, as the 90-day petition clock to stop the order was ticking.
Fact — The water department requested to meet with the selectmen, and it was confirmed that we were placed on their agenda for the upcoming Monday meeting to discuss the law and the power of the board of health order.
Fact — Health agent Matt Poole interfered, and had us removed from the selectmen’s agenda.
I reached out to the selectmen, and was told that I had nothing to worry about, as they were assured by Matt Poole that the decision was to go to the voters.
We then reviewed the law together, and they agreed that they misunderstood (hesitating to say they were misinformed by Matt Poole). They were extremely concerned, and allowed us to meet with them, at which time the selectmen agreed that they wanted the voters to decide, not the board of health. Chairman Art Smadbeck requested at least three times that they rescind their order during a board of health meeting. Under pressure, Harold Zadeh made a motion to vote to rescind the order in case a petition to allow the voters to decide at the next election failed.
Dr. Orazem refused to “second” that motion. As you know, Kathie Case abstained.
A petition had begun to stop the “order.” Matt Poole attempted to interfere with the petition multiple times by requesting that the language of the petition be changed, which would have voided the petition signatures already obtained and cut further into the 90 days allowed for a successful petition. He continued to attempt to interfere even after town counsel informed him that he could not be involved with the petition initiative.
The question remains whether the order was initiated by the DPH legitimately, and if the board of health completed an investigation regarding fluoride as required by the law before voting to “order” as required and illustrated in the language of the law.
For every fluoride pro, there is a con. The board of health has failed to educate anyone before voting the order, or schedule any education forums at the library as promised, since opposition began.
I first was on the fence, as I was uneducated. So I educated myself. The fact is that fluoride helps minimize cavities, and the best way to receive fluoride is by application. The worst way to receive fluoride is by ingesting.
Vineyard Smiles is a state-funded program that provides free dental care to children at the town schools and to adults. Fluoride application (not ingesting) is part of the free program, in addition to other dental services.
There was a lawsuit filed on April 18  against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop the addition of fluoride into all municipal water supplies nationwide. See The details of the lawsuit illustrate the cons/risks to human health.
I asked Dr. Orazem during a public meeting who their target was. He replied by informing that it was children who are not from the “Beaver Cleaver”-type home environment. The board of health has failed to prove that their “target” actually drinks town water. It is most likely that their “target” drink sugar drinks, not town water.
In my opinion, it makes no sense to spend over $650K to add fluoride (which is a poison) to our water supply when there is a possibility that adding fluoride will be banned in the near future; or to add fluoride to a water supply for consumption, which causes harm to humans, as illustrated in the lawsuit. Most of the the fluoride would end up in the ground, causing other problems.
It makes more sense to promote a program that provides fluoride by application, which would effectively reach all those in need who want it, and avoid those who feel at risk if exposed and do not want fluoride in their bodies or the ground.


David Burke


Mr. Burke is a member of the Edgartown water commission.


  1. It seems like the headline doesn’t agree with text of this letter. The headline asserts the “law” wasn’t followed but the letter claims that “DPH recommendations” weren’t followed. That is a material difference. Is the Times comfortable with their assigned headline?

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