ORMOND BEACH –– Fluoride will stay in the city’s drinking water –– for now. Despite a more than hourlong presentation by City Commissioner Troy Kent, his colleagues chose to move ahead with the purchase of chemicals, including hydrofluorosilicic acid, otherwise known as fluoride, for the coming year’s water supply.
The commission voted 4-1, with Kent dissenting.
But the issue brought up at Tuesday night’s meeting by Kent was not just that of fluoride, but the company providing it to the city.
“I’m not some fluoride fruit loop,” he said at the end of his presentation. “I’m just a guy that did a little research.”
In May, Kent mailed a letter to Harcros Chemicals Inc., the city’s current fluoride provider, as well as more than 40 suppliers throughout North America. In addition to asking they provide a list of chemicals added to the water, Kent asked that each company issue a declaratory statement that hydrofluorosilicic acid, the current form of fluoride the city uses, is safe for human consumption and would effectively prevent tooth decay.
Months later, Kent said Harcros Chemicals has yet to respond to his request, although a spokesman contacted the commissioner after being contacted by a News-Journal reporter.
“I’m tired of saying that’s not good enough,” he said.
At the meeting, Kent pored over hours of research showing there is little oversight to the process of putting chemicals in water supplies and produced documents that show arsenic, copper and lead have all been documented as contaminants found in water supplies where fluoride is present.
“I don’t believe we’ve performed our due diligence” he said.
The City Commission also heard from two people who essentially summarized the never-ending debate about fluoride.
Celeste M. Philip, assistant director of public health at the Volusia County Health Department, noted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared fluoride one of the top 10 greatest health achievements in the past century.
But Alan Burton, a candidate for the Zone 1 commission seat and chair of the Volusia Soil and Water Conservation District, said the city is unethically medicating its citizens.
“If you’re going to medicate me, get my consent first,” he said to applause.
Ultimately, commissioners felt they were bound by a voter referendum taken decades ago when the cavity fighter was first making its way into water supplies across the nation. In 1957, Ormond voters –– by a count of 788 to 768 –– chose to fluoridate the city’s water.
“The people said to keep it in and that’s what I support,” said Mayor Ed Kelley.
Zone 1 Commissioner James Stowers countered Burton’s statement.
“The government did not inflict anything on the residents of Ormond Beach,” he said.
As part of the chemical purchase, though, commissioners directed City Manager Joyce Shanahan and city staff to batch test the city’s water in accordance with standards set forth by NSF International, which certifies products that are put into water. In the future, the city will also send letters to chemical providers requesting they provide information on their products.
After the vote, Kent said the decision was a mini-victory.
“This issue is not over,” he said.