Evanston City Council members weighed in on the introductory water fluoridation proposal at the work session on Tuesday, March 8.
The special council session to vote on the second reading of Ordinances 16-01 and 16-02, reducing the size of the Planning and Zoning Commission and Board of Adjustments was overshadowed, as local physician Dr. Michael Adams proposed the city consider fluoridating municipal water.
Though the two ordinances passed their second reading, the water discussion during the work session that followed garnered much community participation at its early stage.
Adams explained to the council his interest in the subject was piqued as he read a health journal article stating general physicians do not do enough to fight dental diseases.
“As a family physician, I may not be doing all I can to fight dental health disease,” Adams said. “I think this is a public health issue. … It goes along with vitamin D added to milk and iodine in salt. We are behind the times here in Evanston.”
Adams cited data from various sources which recommended the use of fluoride in water. He said it is something all people need for dental health, but especially developing children.
“Dental disease impacts children and those later in life,” he said. “Fluoride in our city water will provide it to all people.”
While Adams said many health care professionals and dentists support adding fluoride to the city water, this proposal didn’t go without objection from community members.
Community member David Bennett said there were two sides to the debate, but he had a third side he wanted to present.
“I’m a citizen of this city and should have a choice of what water I will drink,” he said. “If God wanted fluoride in our water he would put it there.”
Bennett also asked who would be responsible for paying the cost to add fluoride to the water system.
He emphasized the importance of individual rights and responsibilities of taking care of ourselves and having the right to choose.
Earlier in the meeting, Evanston Director of Public Works Allan “Oop” Hansen provided some basic water usage information. Hansen said the bulk of water usage wasn’t consumption by the city’s citizens.
Evanston resident Josh Davis later reminded the council of Hansen’s comments.
“This doesn’t make sense,” he said. “Most of it will go down the drain.”
Davis also said that in order to take fluoride, a person must get a prescription or have it administered by a dental professional.
“You are asking to take a medical substance and put it into the hands of the city,” Davis said.
Adams was asked if he was aware of allergies or side effects from fluoride usage. He said he wasn’t aware of issues other than fluorosis, which causes a discoloration of teeth.
Frank Mysliwiec refuted Adams’ statements, sharing personal experiences while living in Eagle Mountain, Utah.
“I have 49 studies done in 2015; 42 of them say using fluoride in water diminishes IQ in children and adults.” said Mysliwiec. “My family experienced skin rashes, lesions in the mouth, weight gain, impaired vision, gastric issues and other issues when they put fluoride in the water.”
He said a city employee spilled one drop of fluoride on his arm and had a major infection as it ate through his skin all the way to the bone.
“This is a toxic substance,” he said. “It accumulates in the pineal gland in a human (and animal) brain. We don’t just pee it out.”
As the discussion continued, council members weighed in.
“I’ve done a little research on this topic and have actually found more negative than positive things,” said Councilwoman Wendy Schuler. “I’ve read it has had negative effects on kidneys, thyroid, bones, etc.”
Schuler said she had spoken to a dozen or more people and only one person thought it would be a good thing.
“Looks like we need to study this out,” said Councilwoman Saundra Meyer. “We need to take a serious look at this and hear from our citizens on the subject.”
The cost was certainly a question, as city officials have said funding from state and federal levels is on the decline, which has and will continue to impact the city.
According to Dr. Adams, it would cost a city of less than 5,000 people approximately $3.70 per person per year. However, that doesn’t include the cost of equipment required to inject the fluoride into water.
“We would have to upgrade the water treatment plant in order to do this,” said Evanston City Engineer Brian Honey. “We are not in a place to implement this right now.”
Uinta County Public Health Director Kim Profit encouraged the council to get good information from both sides of the debate.
“I believe the cost/benefit wins in terms of health in this case,” she said.
Council members also had questions regarding safety, storage and overall effectiveness of fluoridating city water.
Many of the questions could not be answered at Tuesday’s meeting, and assuredly more will arise as discussion continues on the topic.
Mayor Williams assured everyone this was not a decision the council would take lightly.
“This is something I will have to be convinced of, as I share some of the concerns,” said Williams.