After a strong response from the community, including a petition, the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen has decided to push public discussion about fluoride from June to July.
Mayor Kelly Wolfe said Monday that the board hasn’t chosen a date for the hearing yet, but said he and the other board members feel more comfortable delaying the discussion until the yearly budget is wrapped up. Since the issue of discontinuing fluoridated water in the town came up during April’s BMA meeting, Wolfe said he and the aldermen have been listening to public concerns on both sides of the debate.
“It’s one of those things that we don’t want to rush, we want to have a good discussion and we want to listen,” he said, adding, “Obviously folks have strong opinions and it’s a healthy to be be talking about it.”
Johnson City resident Ron Myers created a petition that began circulating on Monday encouraging the Jonesborough BMA to discontinue adding fluoride to the drinking water. Myers said he has spent at least 15 years researching the effects of fluoridation and included much of his research in the online petition.
In the petition, Myers reasons that other than helping prevent cavities, fluoridated water has no other health benefits to humans and cites the Centers for Disease Control report that it is harmful to infants under 6 months old and people with dentures.
In a phone interview, Myers reasoned that it would be more beneficial to educate people on the negative effects that consuming too much refined sugars. Local dentists estimate removing fluoride from the water would cause a rise in dental needs in the community, but Myers said education about sugar would be a a way to combat cavities.
Even though he lives in Johnson City, Myers said he started the petition in hopes of swaying the Jonesborough BMA to take action against fluoridated water which would spark other local municipalities to do the same, maybe even throughout all of Washington County.
As for the fate of fluoridated water in Jonesborough, Wolfe said that July’s public forum is the place to be for residents wishing to voice their concerns.
“We’re going to be prepared to have a very civil discussion and be prepared to listen to anyone who wants to speak. We are truly all committed to doing what’s best for both residents of Jonesborough and customers of our water system,” he said.