A practice approved by a 1950 Fond du Lac City Council decision is again in the spotlight.
The Safe Water Group wants council members to take another look at whether fluoride in the city’s drinking water poses a significant health risk to residents.
In April 2002, council members voted 5-2 to continue fluoridating the water.
In July 2002, the group submitted a signed petition to the council asking for a referendum vote about the addition of fluoride to the municipal water supply.
Following a Committee of the Whole meeting in September, then Council President Martin Ryan said the council decided the issue would not be placed on the ballot that November.
Dr. Paul Connett, a professor of chemistry at St. Lawrence University in New York and an environmental activist, will discuss the hazards of fluoridation before the council Wednesday night.
Council members Michael Schmal and Sal Curcurio are sponsoring Connett’s appearance at the meeting at the request of the Safe Water Group.
Dr. Anthony Iacopino, assistant dean for Research/Graduate Studies at Marquette University and director of Wisconsin Geriatric Education Center, will speak on oral health and the benefits of community water fluoridation.
Safe Water leader Richard Matthew said he’s pleased that that the group will have the opportunity to hear Connett, but would still like to see the petition placed on a council agenda.
“All people were asking for is the right to have a referendum that asks voters whether they want their water fluoridated or not,” Matthew said Monday. “It’s not right to ignore a petition with more than 2,000 signatures on it.”
The issue has been discussed a number of times, noted Acting City Manager Tom Ahrens.
“This is about the 10th time that it (fluoride) has come up in the time that I’ve been here,” he said. “I always tell the council they can do whatever they want (when it comes to putting items on the agenda).
“You don’t put something on because it’s popular,” he said. “You do it because it’s right. The proliferation of results says fluoride is beneficial.”
Ahrens said no council action on the issue is planned.
“My feeling is it’s solely a public health issue,” Ahrens said. “It’s a scientific issue. You should use science to resolve the issue, not a referendum.”
County Public Health Director Diane Cappozzo said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona, emphasized the effectiveness of fluoridated water for cavity control as recently as July.
She said recent findings show that every dollar spent fluoridating municipal water supplies saves $38 in dental costs.
The city spends about $7,100 annually on chemicals to fluoridate the city’s water supply, said Public Works Director Mark Lentz.
Matthew said he has been giving fluoride information to the council for about 30 years.
“Fluoride was a theory in 1950,” Matthew said. “They never tested for the safety or effectiveness of it. It was never approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).
“What goes into the water (hyrofluosilicic acid) comes out of the smokestack of fertilizer factories. This affects the health of everybody in the community.”
If there is new fluoride information, Schmal said the council should hear it.
“There appears to be a significant number of people that are concerned about the fluoride in water,” he said. “All of the facts that I have read up to this point tell me it’s still an important part of daily life. But I think it’s incumbent on us as a council to at least listen to the information.”
“If we’re going to make these other changes in the city’s water, why not look at it (fluoride) now?” Schmal said.
Charter Cable Channel 25 will televise the council proceedings live beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday.