Opponents of Pasco’s longtime use of fluoride in the city’s water supply accused council members Monday night of drugging its residents without their consent.
“This is an illegal drug that we’re pushing on everybody,” said Bill Osmunson, a dentist with offices in Bellevue and Lake Oswego, Ore. “The biggest pushers of illegal drugs in counties and the state are the cities in pushing fluoride in the water.”
Osmunson was one of about 40 people who attended the council meeting to protest fluoride being added to the city’s water. Pasco has added it for more than seven years to promote dental health, but some people believe it can cause other health issues and has never been approved for ingestion.
The issue was not on Monday’s agenda but the group, being led by the Campaign for Liberty, is asking the city to take another look at fluoridation. Speakers given a few minutes to talk under the “visitors” portion of the agenda included the wife of a current Pasco councilman and a former councilwoman.
No one approached the microphone to speak in favor of fluoridation.
Councilman Matt Watkins, after listening to Osmunson’s claims, called it a “startling accusation” that Pasco is prescribing a drug illegally and asked city staff if there is any truth to it.
City attorney Leland Kerr said under Washington code there are certain limitations the city must follow and that Pasco is compliant. There is no law in Washington that makes it illegal to add fluoride to water systems, he said.
There are a lot of cities across the state that fluoridate their water, added Pasco city manager Gary Crutchfield. If the opponents believe fluoride is a true illegal drug, then it might be better for them to address this issue before the state Legislature, he told the audience.
The city council in April accepted a $100,000 grant to install fluoridation equipment at a new city water treatment plant. A month later, members of Campaign for Liberty — a group that started as Columbia Basin Citizens for Ron Paul, a 2008 presidential candidate — sought ways to influence local government and fixed on fluoridation as an issue to promote its mission to protect individual rights.
Two women wore white T-shirts Monday night with a red stop sign on front that read: “Stop fluoridation before it stops you.” On the back it said they were “paid for by citizens allergic to fluoride.”
Eileen Crawford, who lost her re-election bid in 2005 after serving one term, told the council she was diagnosed last year with osteoporosis and that she partially blames the fluoride in city water for her loss of bone mass.
Crawford said she thought she was being healthy when she consumed two quarts of water a day out of her home tap, but instead was hurting herself. She worries that even if she filters her tap water, the fluoride will go through her skin when she showers or just washes her hands.
“Fluoride is not something we need in our drinking water,” Crawford said.
Councilwoman Rebecca Francik charged back that she is the same age as Crawford and she too drinks a lot of water from the same supply, and yet she has no signs of osteoporosis. The fluoride added to the city’s system is a low dose, she said, and people need “to believe that this council is doing the very best it can for the citizens of Pasco.”
Joan Larsen, wife of Councilman Tom Larsen, asked “how many people in the city of Pasco know how much fluoride is in the water they drink?” She said “the thinking regarding nutrition has changed,” and questioned if the city can handle a class-action lawsuit
Lawyer and Pasco resident Shawn Sant gave council members thick packets of reading material and requested they schedule a more in-depth presentation for a later meeting. Fluoride is considered a legend drug that requires a doctor’s prescription in Washington state and, if it was so important for their health, wouldn’t more people be visiting their doctor to get the tablets, he asked.
Mayor Joyce Olson told group organizer Michelle Murphy and the other speakers that she appreciated their efforts to collect information for the council to consider.