WEST JORDAN — Officials here are looking for ways to opt out of Salt Lake County”s fluoridation, which City Councilman Andrew Allison says would amount to “forced medication of every man, woman and child” in his city.
Voters in 2000 supported countywide fluoridation 58 percent to 42 percent.
But Assistant City Attorney Ryan Carter, who is exploring whether the city can qualify for an exemption, said the ballot initiative question and statute were ambiguous and could possibly be challenged in court.
The ballot question – Shall fluoride be added to the public water supplies within Salt Lake County? – could be read like an opinion survey, Carter told the City Council this week.
The county ordinance doesn”t specify funding sources or the kind of fluoride that should be used, Carter said.
Several proponents of a fluoride-free West Jordan voiced concerns that increased water contamination, health complications and the right to choose outweigh fluoride”s possible dental health benefits.
Many health professionals maintain fluoridation prevents cavities. The American Dental Association, American Medical Association and the Centers for Disease Control all support it.
West Jordan City Manager Gary Luebbers says he invited representatives from the Salt Lake Valley Health Department to argue for fluoridation, but they declined.
“They said they are not willing to debate the pros and cons of fluoride because, in their minds, the issue has already been settled by the voters,” Luebbers said.
In the end, the council voted 4-2 to draft an ordinance that would set standards for drinking water.
Allison says the proposed ordinance would be modeled after a Lakewood, Calif., statute that forbids adding any substance to the public water supply “for the purpose of treating or affecting the physical or mental functions of the body of any person,” unless it has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and does not contain excess contaminants.
The city attorney”s office will assess the legality of such an ordinance and present a draft to the council in coming weeks.