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Monday, December 29, 2014

Massive Fluoride Poisoning at Jonesboro Maine School Jonesboro, Maine Population 600 The Maine Paper October 19, 1981 By Robert Berta

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Massive Fluoride Poisoning at Jonesboro Maine School
Jonesboro, Maine
Population 600
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."
"Jonesboro, 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 ill effects.
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 poisoning."
Another mother, Irene Faulkingham, had one of her two children affected by the fluoride overdose.
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.
School officials 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.
Mrs. Faulkingham 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."
Jonesboro voters 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.
Helen Snowdeal, 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.
School custodian 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 supply again.
Mrs. Faulkingham stated she couldn't vote to return to the fluoride program.
"Watching so many kids vomiting is not a pleasant sight.

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