The Fond du Lac City Council and about 35 local residents on Wednesday heard two speakers discuss the pros and cons of fluoridating municipal water supplies.
Dr. Paul Connett, professor of chemistry at St. Lawrence University in New York and an environmental activist, said the addition of hydrosfluosilicic acid — the type of fluoride used in the drinking water in many communities, including Fond du Lac — is unsafe, unethical, unnecessary, inefficient and inequitable.
Connett provided information to the council at the request of the Safe Water Group of Fond du Lac.
Dr. Anthony Iacopino, assistant dean for research/graduate studies at Marquette University and director of the Wisconsin Geriatric Education Center, said 60 years of research support the addition of fluoride to municipal drinking water supplies as an effective means of preventing tooth decay. Acting City Manager Tom Ahrens sponsored Iacopino’s appearance at the meeting.
The fluoride presentations were offered as informational only, and no local legislative action has been planned on the issue.
Community water fluoridation has been an often-debated topic in Fond du Lac since 1950 when city officials authorized the use of the chemical additive to improve dental health.
Dr. William Mauthe said that after Fond du Lac began to fluoridate its water, he and other dentists could recognize whether patients were from other communities that didn’t use fluoride at the time.
“We could tell if kids were from Fond du Lac or North Fond du Lac by the number of holes in their teeth,” Mauthe said.
Connett said the type of chemical fluoride that Fond du Lac uses is a byproduct of industrial fertilizer.
“There’s nothing natural about it,” he told City Council members.
Dr. Steven Meress and former council member William Turner both urged the council to give city residents a choice in the matter. Turner pointed out that a large number of eligible voters signed a petition asking for a referendum on the issue. The petition hasn’t been placed on a council agenda thus far, according to Turner.
“I’m disappointed that 2,066 signatures were swept under the rug,” he said.
After the meeting, Richard Matthews, leader of the Safe Water Group, said that while he was glad that council members heard Connett’s information, he didn’t think any further action would result from it.
“The minds of council members in the past have been so closed to this issue — I have little hope,” he said. “They think they’re smarter than the people in Fond du Lac.”
Though Connett offered to return to debate Iacopino again, Council President Steve Michels said it would probably have to take place in a college setting.
“I don’t see it happening in this forum,” he said.