A Louisiana House committee Thursday turned aside Senate-passed legislation that would limit the use of Chinese fluoride in the state’s water systems.
On a vote of four “yes” and seven against, the House Health and Welfare committee refused to favorably report Senate Bill 638 to the full House.
Supporters testified that only two water systems in Louisiana — in Oakdale and Crowley — are set up to use the Chinese-produced product.
SB638’s sponsor, state Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, said given the problems experienced with drywall, baby formula, toys and other products manufactured in China and imported here, consumers should be wary of a chemical added to drinking water supplies.
“Looks like everything produced there doesn’t meet any kind of standards,” said state Rep. Fred Mills Jr., D-St. Martinville, who has sponsored legislation requiring the label of seafood from China.
“It’s not at all related to Chinese drywall,” said Ward Blackwell, executive director of the Louisiana Dental Association, a trade group that represents about 80 percent of the licensed dentists in Louisiana.
Blackwell said about 40 different chemicals are added to clarify and sanitize drinking water. “We’re going after a single additive,” he said.
The chemicals are certified by a national group contracted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, he said.
But the effort to determine the origin of the chemical’s manufacture, which is not required as part of the certification process, would force the state to set up a new agency tasked with tracking the additive, Blackwell said.
Claitor’s measure also would needlessly scare consumers about the use of fluoride, Blackwell said. Only about 40 percent of the state’s water systems add fluoride, which dentists say fights tooth decay. Opponents point to studies that say the chemical is dangerous and harms children needlessly.
Claitor said after the hearing that while the committee’s vote ended the effort for this legislative session, he may bring up the issue again next year.
Voting against advancing the fluoride bill: Chairwoman Kay Katz, R-Monroe, and Reps Richie Burford, R-Stonewall, Jean Doerge, D-Minden, Dorothy Sue Hill, D-Dry Creek, Walker Hines, D-New Orleans, J. Rogers Pope, R-Denham Springs and Thomas Willmott, R-Kenner.
Voting for reporting SB638 favorably: state Reps. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, Robert A. Johnson, D-Marksville, Fred Mills Jr., D-St. Martinville, and Scott Simon, R-Abita Springs.