After nearly four hours of public comment, the Bozeman City Commission decided not to remove fluoride from the city’s tap water.
“We are not epidemiologists. We are not dentists. We’re charged with one thing; it’s to make decisions that are the best decisions we can make for the citizens of Bozeman, Montana,” said City Commissioner Carson Taylor.
Even though the city commission decided to continue fluoridating the drinking water, 34 people spoke against community water fluoridation, and 27 people spoke in favor of it.
“I am appalled at the prospect of using water as a vehicle for drugs. Fluoride is a cohesive poison that will produce serious effects on a long-range basis,” said William Wolf, a member of Fluoride Free Bozeman, a concerned citizens group.
Matt Kelly, the Gallatin City-County Health Officer, gave a presentation on why he strongly believes water fluoridation is the best route, based on what he says are the most accurate medical studies.
“Mr. Kelly here pointed that fluoride was naturally occurring, he didn’t mention that it was calcium fluoride that is naturally occurring. The fluoride that you are putting in our water supply is a by-product of phosphate and aluminum mining waste,” said Dr. Arthur Evangelista.
Most of the comments opposing water fluoridation came from concerned citizens; on the other hand, the majority of the comment in favor of community water fluoridation came from physicians.
“The clear and undeniable message that you will hear is that it’s been proven for 65 years and more than 3,000 scientific studies later, that community water fluoridation is safe and the cost-effective,” said Dr. Jane Gillette.
“Fluoridation is on an uptick nationally, since 1992 it is up from 62% to 72%. There’s a reason for that and it’s because it works,” said Dr. Jeff Hamling.
Of all the commissioners, Deputy Mayor Jeff Krauss was the only one who was unsure about continuing with the process, mostly because of the fluctuation in recommended amounts of fluoride in the water.
“That seems to be a trend that we can’t ignore, that the bodies in charge of regulating this have regularly dropped the recommended amount as if they’re uncertain about the science themselves,” Krauss said.
The Fluoride Free Bozeman group still plans on gathering more signatures for their initiative which would place the hot button issue on the November ballot.