Fluoride Action Network

Contentious Fluoridation Issue Continues in Pierce County

Source: Brio Public Relations | April 12th, 2005 | For Immediate Release

April 12 –Sumner, WA Concerned citizens of Sumner, Washington in Pierce County should be aware the Tacoma/Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD) has changed its regulations regarding fluoridating the city’s water systems causing further debate among citizens and city council members making the issue even more confusing for an apprehensive population.

The confusion lies in the change of 2004 regulations stating that affected water systems would have to fluoridate. A 2005 regulation now states that TPCHD will only require fluoridation if the affected water systems choose not to pay for dental care of target children living within that water district.

Many regulators of municipal water systems continue to disagree based on the premise it is not the job of cities to provide dental health benefits and in many cases it would be illegal to charge tax paying citizens for the dental health care for other customers.

TPCHD has effectively given towns and cities serving 5,000 or more people two choices:

Fluoridate water systems city wide or voluntarily provide an oral health
program with the economic burden on the tax payers of the city. The choices have been hotly debated in cities throughout Pierce County as fluoridation only benefits young children who have yet to develop permanent teeth and poses potential health risks for everyone due to the origin and chemical makeup of fluoride.

The type of chemical used in the fluoridation process is another source of contention. TPCHD originally proposed using a pharmaceutical grade fluoride and has now modified that choice to a less expensive industrial grade fluoride. Although TPCHD suggests that Sodium Fluoride is the preferred chemical for water fluoridation as it is “cleaner”, Sodium Hexafluorosilicate and Hydrofluorosilicic Acid are also legally allowed and much cheaper. The origin of all three of these chemicals comes from pollution scrubbers of phosphate chemical plants. There is much controversy over the purity of all three chemicals. The latter two contain much higher amounts of heavy metals such as mercury and lead, arsenic, and radioactive elements such as uranium and antimony.

In a letter dated April 5, Sumner’s mayor, Barbara Skinner wrote Dr. Federico Cruz Uribe of the Tacoma/Piece County Health Department stating the City Council will not finance an alternate method of fluoridation. She wrote: “After much discussion and testimony from citizens of Sumner, the majority of the City Council believes that the City is not responsible for health programs nor for dental programs. Furthermore, we believe the City has no responsibility for financing a fluoride program in the local school system. Therefore, we suggest that, if the TPCHD determines that this program is needed, then the Health Department should finance the program.”

Sumner City Council also decided after an exhaustive study, the citizens of Sumner should not have to vote on the issue. After TPCHD quietly, and seemingly backhandedly, changed the resolutions, Sumner City Council realized it would be much more confusing for citizens to vote on the issue without the luxury of research and without the knowledge the resolutions have been changed.

The resolutions read as follows:

Resolution No. 2005-3704 and number 63719;Enactment of a regulation requiring Pierce County cities and towns that own or operate water systems serving 5,000 or more people to provide fluoridation of drinking water, but excepting therefrom any otherwise affected city or town that voluntarily participates in the oral health program. This resolution replaces resolution No. 2004-3615.

Resolution No. 2005-3705 and number 63719; Enactment of a regulation requiring privately owned water and light companies, water mutual companies, water systems or other privately owned entities that own or operate water systems serving 5,000 or more people in Pierce County, Washington (collectively, “water companies”) to provide fluoridation of drinking water, but excepting therefrom, any otherwise affected water company that voluntarily participates in the oral health program. This resolution replaces resolution No. 2004-3616.

TPCHD will vote on the resolutions May 4 after tabling the issue in April.


Brio Public Relations
1408 Rainier Street Sumner, Washington 98390
Contact: Janet Hansen
Telephone: (253) 863-2033
Fax: (253) 863-9437
Email: conbriopr@aol.com