It was hardly news to longtime residents of southeast Arizona that the Bisbee City Council voted unanimously this past week to eliminate fluoride from the local water supply. The eclectic personality of this community never fails to be prominently displayed on any issue that the majority casually accept in good faith.
Before fluoride, some Bisbee residents protested several years ago that the local utility was causing cancer by its use of wireless automated meter reading equipment. It was fashionable to don tin hats to quell that threat.
Bisbee will always be Bisbee. Home to a weekly gathering of the “Women in Black” who for more than a decade have stood in protest — of something — every Friday, on Main Street. The city maintains a reputation as always the first to raise a fist, carry a sign or cry out about injustice. Its residents are always the last to believe what government or other officials say to be true.
The question of whether fluoride should be added to the city’s water supply is the latest perceived conspiracy among those who “know better” and are quick to raise an alarm.
This controversy has fueled community debate repeatedly over the years, last consuming the council in October 2016. Bisbee has been the only city in Cochise County that adds fluoride to its drinking water. Other privately-owned local water companies — none of which contract with municipalities — do not add fluoride to the water they provide to their customers.
But Bisbee’s decision last week wasn’t based on what area water companies do, or don’t do, for their customers. It was based on the idea that fluoride is a perceived health threat perpetrated on the masses and mindlessly consumed by everyone living in cities that choose to add the element to the local water supply.
It’s not, of course. The American Dental Association reports that poor dental hygiene and cavities continue to represent a major public health concern, affecting more than 60 percent of all school children. For those children, who don’t brush their teeth regularly and are too young to care, fluoride in the drinking water helps prevent decay.
Ironically, Bisbee’s decision to stand up against conventional wisdom and eradicate this conspiracy of good health will fail against Mother Nature. Arizona Water Company reports that Bisbee already has a low concentration of naturally occurring fluoride in its water, about .01 parts per billion.
Like it or not, the perceived dangers of fluoride will still be part of Bisbee’s water supply.
On to the next conspiracy…
*Original article titled A conspiracy of good health is online at http://www.myheraldreview.com/opinion/a-conspiracy-of-good-health/article_cd3d08a0-0dfa-11e8-bc30-7b6f5ef274b9.html
October 23, 2016: Fluoride questions splits Bisbee
October 5, 2016: Bisbee to reduce fluoride in water supply