Is fluoridation effective against tooth decay? Should anyone have the authority to mandate fluoridation of public drinking water? How does it affect human health? Those questions have given rise to a growing social phenomenon — a highly controversial debate concerning fluoridation and public health.

This is a confusing debate because most families grew up with fluoride. They followed their dentist’s advice, believing public health agencies are protecting our health, using the latest scientific knowledge.

With the advent of cyberspace and the Internet, a tsunami of information has forced us from naïve complacency to more informed awareness. It has fueled a growing fluoride debate at the international, national, state, county and city levels of government, pitting an outraged and educated public against the richly financed special interest groups within the aluminum, phosphate fertilizer, steel, glass and nuclear weapons industries.

Not unlike the civil rights movement, not unlike the national upheaval that stopped the bleeding and corporate profiteering in Vietnam and not unlike the emergence of the environmental movement, informed citizens of Skagit County are now challenging the fluoride voice of “authority” within the federal government-military-industrial-public health complex. The propaganda, influence peddling, power-control politics and conspicuous lack of scientific evidence of fluoridation proponents are being called into account.

Skagit Clean Water ( is a volunteer organization coordinating opposition to the fluoridation of Skagit PUD water within the Judy Reservoir system in Mount Vernon, Burlington, Sedro-Woolley, Alger, Rockport, Cedargrove, Skagit View Village and Marblemount.

Born in opposition to the Skagit County Board of Commissioners’ first summit meeting on water fluoridation in August 2005, Skagit Clean Water has become the primary force in community education on fluoride, coordinating citizen action and public awareness in the local media.

In September 2006, the Skagit County Board of Commissioners issued a resolution calling for an advisory vote on fluoridation in the Nov. 7 election. SCW responded with a public awareness campaign targeting the toxic effect of fluoride on public health and formed a political action committee.

In a David-Goliath confrontation — with Washington Dental Services Foundation funding at $116,000 and SCW funding at $1,300 — Skagit voters delivered a slim victory to Proposition 2 fluoridation proponents by a margin of 52 percent-48 percent, nowhere near the 60 percent required for mandated fluoridation in citizen-initiated resolutions.

On Jan. 2, despite a very close vote, the board of commissioners approved a resolution that set 11 a.m. today as the time for the final hearing on fluoridation in Skagit County; it will be held in the commissioners’ hearing room, 1800 Continental Place, Mount Vernon.

At this public hearing, concerned voters, dentists and other professionals promise to challenge the accountability, priorities and patronizing disregard of informed citizens by the commission.

Will this lead to just another fluoridation by fiat? How will legal parameters influence the fluoridation debate and who will make the final decision?

The public is encouraged to review Skagit Clean Water Web site and the Fluoride Action Network at, noting scientific information from the National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council, Environmental Protection Agency and World Health Organization.


Lee Taylor lives in Bellingham.