Depending on who you believe, fluoride is a dangerous “byproduct of nuclear and aluminum waste” or an additive that for years provided “a priceless health benefit” to residents of Snowmass Village.
Given the disparate views expressed by dentists, parents and other community members during Monday’s town council meeting, elected officials are planning a larger discussion about the fluoridation of the town’s drinking water. Last month, the Snowmass Water and Sanitation District water board, in a 3-1 decision, voted to remove it from the local water supply.
Snowmass Village dentist Karina Redko said she didn’t believe adequate public input was taken before the decision, which she said impacts the “health and well being of the community.” She also inferred that a photo published in the Aspen Daily News of a fluoride handler who was wearing a Haz-mat suit might have inflamed public concerns.
“For decades this water has … provided a priceless health benefit with the addition of fluoride,” Redko said. “Now that our water fluoridation program has ceased, I am incredibly concerned about the health of our community, especially our children and older adults.”
She emphasized that dental disease is not only an infectious disease that can be passed between individuals, but one that can lead to other health problems, including cardiovascular issues, cancer and diabetes.
Resident Paul Benton said he wanted the decision made based on facts supported by health agencies, rather than “personal judgments.” He suggested that if the decision isn’t reconsidered, opponents may consider referendum as an option.
“This is a medical question that should be left to the public health authorities. As a citizen and a father, I don’t want to see a debate on public health taking place on the water board,” Benton said.
Equally passionate was the anti-fluoride crowd.
“To me, it’s abuse to feed children this toxic waste,” said Cris Dawson, who “commends the board for doing what they did.” She said fluoride “is a byproduct from nuclear and aluminum waste” and one that is contributing to different cancers and attention deficit disorder.
Water board member David Dawson, who voted in the majority to ban fluoride, said there are many conflicting studies on its effects.
“For every study the dental people have, I can show you one from the EPA,” he said. “It would be totally irresponsible if I would vote for the inclusion of this substance in our water. It is a civil rights thing.”
Tom Lankering, a valley health care practitioner for 35 years, said the issue comes down to “freedom of choice.” His choice, and the one Lankering recommends to patients, is to have clean water that’s free of fluoride.