After months of heated debate, Clarksdale leaders decided not to fluoridate the city’s water supply. Led by Ward 3 Commissioner Buster Moton, the mayor and his board voted unanimously to strike down the motion.
“It seemed like the board was dragging along something,” Moton said. “It didn’t really need to be dragged along. To put fluoride in the water is unneccesary.”
Moton said he decided he should do something after seeing resident response.
“It seemed like we ought not to entertain that,” he said. “We have other big, major problems more so than debating fluoride in the water. We should have that out in the beginning.”
On Sept. 27, Fluoridation Administrator John Daniel Justice of the Mississippi Department of Health presented his case for fluoridation.
In facts he presented, Justice said 70.5 percent of third graders experienced tooth decay and 15 percent have an urgent need for dental care. He said 35.1 percent of persons 65 or older have lost all their natural teeth.
Over one million Mississippians receive fluoridated water, but only 42 percent in public water systems, he said. In comparison, over 90 percent of Tennesseans and Georgians receive some type of fluoridated water.
After hearing Justice speak, the board agreed to postpone any decision until Monday’s meeting.
At that meeting, Rudolph Massey presented his case against fluoridation.
“Fluoride is a poison,” he said. “They would be medicating people against their will through the public water supply. That’s unconstitutional.”
“If they can put fluoride in the water, they can take anything they want and put it in there,” he said. “Do you want to drink aspirin or antibiotics?”
It is well agreed that fluoride is useful in a topical solution, like in toothpaste. However, Massey argues that even that can be harmful.
“The tube of toothpaste says not to use too much when brushing your teeth, especially swallowing it,” he said. “That is especially true with young children.”
The measure has a history of failure. For the past 26 years, the city has tried to fluoridate the water through a referendum of the people.
“Each time it failed miserably,” Massey said. “It was like a snake. You can stomp a snake in the head and think it’s dead, but it just keeps on reviving. I think the board did the right thing in all respects.”