Burlington’s Board of Health recommended Monday by a 3-2 vote that Burlington cease fluoridating its water supply.
The recommendation moves to the City Council, which has the authority to regulate chemicals in the water supply “so long as we remain compliant with applicable state and federal laws, rules and regulations,” City Attorney Ken Schatz said.
Schatz’s remarks were contained in a Dec. 29 letter to Councilor Joan Shannon, D-Ward 5, and were distributed to other councilors and city officials.
The Board of Health resolution said recent scientific developments suggest fluoridation may be harmful to “certain subsets of the population” and recommended an immediae end to the practice.
Burlington has added fluoride to its water supply since 1952.
The Board of Health in 2005, following a 3-2 vote, said that fluoride presented a significant health risk to infants and recommended that infants up to 6 months old receive no fluoride. The City Council subsequently voted 7-4 to reduce the amount of fluoride in the city’s water to the minimum level recommended by state and federal authorities.
A local group organized as SWAB – Safe Water Advocates of Burlington – later collected enough signatures to place the fluoride issue on the March 2006s ballot. About 70 percent of voters said they wanted the city to continue fluoridating the water supply. SWAB is also involved in the current attempt to end local water fluoridation.
Board of Health Chairman Alan Sousie, who supported the board’s recommendation Monday, said new scientific reports have “raised enough concerns and cautions that we felt it needed to be looked at again.”
He said he assumes the council will hold public hearings on fluoridation.
Council President Kurt Wright, R-Ward 4, said it is premature to predict how the council will deal with the issue. “Having talked to a few councilors,” he said, “I don’t believe there’ll be any move by the council to place this on the ballot.