Fluoride Free Fairbanks Web Archive
Fluoride Poisoning at Jonesboro Maine School
The Maine Paper
October 19, 1981
By Robert Berta
"We were told
that the fluoridation program was completely safe," said
Velma Pineo of Jonesboro, after 60 students and teachers and
the principal himself were taken to the Downeast Community Hospital
in Machias October 6 following an overdose of the chemical in
the school's water supply.
"We asked what
would happen if too much fluoride got into the system,"
Pineo recalled of questions asked at a PTA meeting held last
spring to see if parents would go along with a fluoridation
program at the Jonesboro Elementary School.
"We were told
it couldn't happen," she said, "and if it did, it
would be completely harmless to our children."
a town of about 400 people, is located eight miles south of
Machias on Route one.
Based on the spring
meeting, residents went ahead with a program this fall in which
fluoride was mixed into the school's drinking water.
The morning the
mass poisoning occurred, the victims got abdominal pains, became
nauseated and vomited. They were given blood tests at the hospital,
asked to drink milk there, and were later released with no further
Tentatively, a faulty
valve on the state-installed mechanical unit that injected fluoride
into the school's water has been found to have caused the poisoning.
The residents of
Jonesboro do not appear to be anxious to see the system hooked
back up again. Some claim it will never be used again.
Pineo, whose husband
Marvin is president of the Jonesboro PTA, had three children
in the school, two of whom drank the water. One reported feeling
poorly from the poisoning.
She stressed there
was "no way" she would vote to return the fluoridation
program to the school.
"I felt bad
because I was one of the ones who originally voted for it,"
Pineo said. "But I voted for it as a benefit to the younger
children, not so much my own who are in the upper grades."
Pineo now views
the program with distrust. She doesn't think the system should
be allowed to be used in the school's water again.
"I don't want
to go through it again, and I don't think anyone else's children
should have to, either," she declared.
Pineo stated that
when two state government officials and one local official spoke
to the parents in the community last spring, "we were misled.
We should have been told there was a possibility of fluoride
Irene Faulkingham, had one of her two children affected by the
Her son, Albert,
celebrating his 13th birthday, ate a candy bar on his way to
school. He drank water from the school's drinking supply and
was the first student to react to the poisoning.
sent him home, originally believing he had a case of stomach
flu. Later when others became sick and the suspected cause was
pinpointed, Albert was taken to the hospital for treatment.
said that while she had not been at the spring meeting when
officials were asked questions about the fluoridation program,
she had understood from other parents who did attend the meeting
that the program was completely safe.
Parents were told
there was "no danger" that too large a dose of fluoride
would ever get into the school's water supply, she said, feeling
now they were misled.
Muriel Gay had both
of her children poisoned at the Jonesboro school. Her son, Carol,
13, and daughter, Jessie, 9 were stricken.
She thinks children
are able to bounce back quicker than adults. She doesn't favor
reinstituting the program at Jonesboro, however.
"If they can
do the same thing at the dentist's, why bother putting it in
the water?" she posed.
Gay doesn't believe
the program will be brought back. "Too many people are
skeptical of it (fluoride in the water). We don't need this
kind of incident again."
will get a chance to express their views in the future. School
Committee chairperson Martha Knight states the school board
is waiting for an official state report. An open public meeting
will be held thereafter so citizens can air their views.
mother of seventh grade twins Coral and Carol, said one of them
took ill from the excessive fluoride. She didn't attend the
meeting last spring when the fluoridation of the school's drinking
water was suggested.
"At the time
I was in favor of the program," she recalled, and she admitted
her feelings have changed little. She called the recent accident
"unfortunate" and suggested it could have happened
anywhere or at any time.
Observers in the
Jonesboro-Machlas area expect that when a vote is taken again
to hook the fluoride dispenser back up to the school water supply,
it will be rejected overwhelmingly.
Adian Smith speculated that another accident would probably
never occur but also stated his expectation that taxpayers will
probably never let fluoride be placed in the school's water
stated she couldn't vote to return to the fluoride program.
many kids vomiting is not a pleasant sight.