The fluoride will stay in Kalama’s water.
City residents on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to remove the cavity-fighting chemical from city water. The vote was advisory, but the Kalama City Council had informally pledged to abide by the results.
Tuesday’s count had 73 percent of the voters supporting continued use of fluoride.
Surveys submitted by people outside city limits are coming in, with a submission deadline of Nov. 10. Because those residents don’t vote on any other city measures, they didn’t participate in Tuesday’s advisory vote. City administrator Adam Smee said the surveys can still be considered by the council in its own voting process.
Kalama has fluoridated its water for about 50 years. Advocates say it is a proven, safe way to fight tooth decay. Opponents argue that fluoride can cause thyroid, kidney and neurological problems and that populations without fluoridated water have seen a similar decline in cavities.
Mayor Pete Poulsen, a former city water manager, brought the issue to the council because of his own unease with what he saw as a toxic substance being added to the city’s water supply. Poulsen said by phone Tuesday that he wanted to give consumers a choice. Poulsen said the passion over fluoride surprised him.
“I really did not know how it was going to play out,” Poulsen said. “The whole intent behind it was to give Kalama voters the opportunity to decide.”
Councilman Dominic Ciancibelli said the issue would not have even come up before the council had the mayor not done so himself. No one else had raise the issue.
Councilwoman Mary Putka, a staunch advocate of fluoride use, said she was “very happy” with the voting results.
She said the U.S. Protection Agency and Centers for Disease Control support fluoridation, and she trusts those experts.’
Despite Tuesday’s voting results, Pam Whittle, member of advocate group Fluoride Free Kalama, said the fight to stop fluoridation is not over.
“I promise that in five to 10 years, no water will have fluoride in it,” Whittle said by phone Tuesday night. “Today wasn’t the