County to send fluoride resolution to legislators
While not taking an official position on the use of fluoride in drinking water, the Fayette County Board of Commissioners took what could be an unprecedented step in favor of home rule on the subject.
The board voted unanimously Dec. 11 to adopt a resolution asking the county’s legislative delegation to consider changes to the state law currently in effect, which requires a petition signed by 10 percent of registered voters from the previous election to remove fluoride from a jurisdiction’s water supply.
Commissioner Randy Ognio, who made the initial recommendation to put the issue on the agenda, called the move “a good first step,” adding that he wanted to make sure the process was conducted legally to avoid fines and legal costs down the road.
“This [resolution] is not a vote up or down on fluoride,” said Chairman Steve Brown. “It just gives citizens the opportunity to vote up or down on fluoride.”
There were no public comments for or against the resolution, although some citizens have spoken to the board about the matter in the past.
According to a staff report, some of the county’s summer interns researched the issue of the continued fluoridation of the water system, and those findings were discussed in an August meeting.
To begin the process of removing the fluoridation requirement, state law requires the 10-percent petition that county officials consider “overly burdensome.” The resolution passed by the board asks the legislative delegation to remove that burden and give them the option of simply calling for a referendum on the issue if they so desire.
The resolution notes that, while fluoride is mandated in public water supplies in Georgia, a number of countries in Western Europe have opted not to fluoridate their drinking water, and there is little statistical difference in tooth decay numbers there compared to the United States.
Another point made in the resolution is that, while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration classifies fluoride as a drug subject to its regulation, its presence in drinking water makes it impossible to control how much anyone — especially young children — might consume.
“Many are in agreement with Swedish Nobel Laureate and Professor of Pharmacology Arvid Carlsson that fluoride is readily available commercially in a multitude of products, so the government should not have to force fluoride on anyone,” the resolution stated.
Also cited was a 1999 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asserting that the predominant benefit from fluoride is through topical application, but most fluoride is ingested via water.
“Many homeowners in Fayette County utilize well water that has no added fluoride and no evidence has yet to be provided where those drinking from a well have more tooth decay than those who do not,” according to the resolution.
“The Fayette County Board of Commissioners believes ‘home rule’ is important and that the citizens should be allowed to control their own destiny, especially related to drugs or other substances added to their drinking water.”