Fluoride will remain in Olivehurst Public Utility District drinking water after the board of directors on Thursday night rejected a resolution to stop adding the chemical compound.
Each board member gave his own reasons for his particular vote on the issue, which drew dozens opposed to fluoride to previous meetings.
The vote was 3-2 against the resolution.
Gary Bradford and Jeff Phinney, the two board members voting in favor of ending fluoridation, said the evidence they received from anti-fluoride residents convinced them putting it in the water did more harm than good.
“Even if it benefits a portion of the community, we need to make sure it doesn’t hurt, now or in the future, another portion of the community,” Phinney said, citing recent suggestions by medical experts to keep fluoride out of infant formula and findings of negative health effects when fluoride is above certain levels.
What was more convincing to him, he said, was when his family dentist told him the principal reason to add fluoride – to reduce dental caries, or tooth decay — wasn’t effective on some areas of the teeth where cavities are likely to develop.
Bradford, also citing evidence he’d received, said he felt it was obvious fluoride wasn’t helping all OPUD customers because many already get what fluoride they need through brushing and regular dental visits.
But directors Michael Morrison, James Carpenter and Ron Dougherty all had their own reasons for voting to keep fluoridation, many of them centered on the people it does help.
Carpenter said he’d noticed many public agencies were in favor of fluoridation while those opposing it seemed to be independent experts, while Morrison said despite conflicting evidence, it was relatively simple for him.
“You have to look at the whole community,” he said, and figure in terms of overall benefit, especially to people who may not be able to afford regular dental care.
Dougherty, who asked anti-fluoride residents at the meeting about where their opposition came from, said he ultimately felt the board hadn’t gotten enough views from residents.
“We’re just hearing from a few people,” he said, also saying he could change his mind later and some kind of public vote might be helpful.
Those hoping to see fluoride dropped from OPUD drinking water did not want to comment after the vote. But one of them, Jason Bumanglag of Plumas Lake, said during the meeting adding fluoride was government overreach.
“All of us should have the right to choose whether we’re ingesting something or not,” he said to the directors.
OPUD began adding fluoride to drinking water in 2009, under a grant from First 5 Yuba.