To Safe Drinking Water Advocates,
Fluoridation promoters are having a tough time in the Columbia River Gorge.
In Hood River, OR, the issue has been on the radar for months. Mayor Paul Cummings is among the many citizens openly opposed to the idea, and the community is currently in a holding pattern, waiting for new cost estimates from a contractor. But one thing is clear — this issue will not appear on the November ballot.
Across the river, in White Salmon, WA, the city council recently rejected fluoridation outright. This decision effectively stopped the push to fluoridate adjacent community, Bingen, WA, because the two share water from the same source.
Then, on 9/17, council members of Goldendale, WA unanimously voted against fluoridation 7-0. Reflecting the strength of opposition in the community, and mirroring actions of White Salmon’s city council, members did not make a motion to refer the matter to a public vote. (Scroll below to read The Sentinel article.)
OCSDW is pleased to have had the opportunity, working in tandem with Emily Kalweit of Washington State Citizens for Safe Drinking Water, to assist in these efforts.
Returning the favor, councilwoman Gwendolyn Grundei, of Goldendale, offered to join family physician, Dr. Eric Dover, and me at a recent town meeting in Sutherlin, OR, where residents will vote on the issue in November. Gwendolyn is a lawyer by profession, and spoke well to her experience of promoters’ tactics in Goldendale and questions concerning civil liberties raised by fluoridation’s technique of mass medication. As a physician, Dr. Dover brought balance to the presenting panel; he focused on health effects, excessive and uncontrolled exposure, and concerns about the use of untested, contaminated fluoridating products.
Proponents (including several local dentists, a hygienist, and health department official) recited familiar lines about fluoridation’s alleged history of safety and effectiveness, ignoring the ever-increasing body of peer-reviewed studies published in medical/dental and scientific journals — including JADA and JAMA — which point to adverse health effects on the pineal gland, thyroid, brain, teeth and bones. The amount of fluoride ingested from foods, they said, is “too small” to have an effect, and they dismissed outright any concerns over the use of untested, contaminated fluoridating agents, saying there is “no chemical difference” between naturally-occuring calcium fluoride and the compounds used for artificial fluoridation.
Most revealing was their stance on fluoride’s mechanism of prevention, saying that it works because of its “incorporation into the tooth structure.” However, both the Journal of the American Dental Association’s July 2000 cover story plus the just-released CDC report on fluoride are clear that fluoride’s effect is not “systemic,” as was previously thought, but “topical.” This contradiction is notable because the ADA and CDC are the two sources proponents find most credible.
Unfortunately, the meeting was poorly attended, and, because there will be no voters’ pamphlet this year, we are limited in our ability to get good information to the public. If you know of anyone who can help in the effort to educate Sutherlin residents about this issue, please have them contact local residents and coordinators, Bill and/or Betty Brundige. The Brundiges can be reached at 541-459-0317 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Remember to scroll down for the Goldendale newspaper article.
The Sentinel – Goldenvale, WA
September 20, 2001
City council brushes away fluoridation: Council unanimously rejects adding fluoride to water supply
By CRAIG HOWARD of The Sentinel
In a unanimous 7-0 vote, the Goldendale City Council voted to reject any proposal to add fluoride to the city’s water supply in their meeting Monday, Sept. 17.
The vote, preceded by a litany of anti-fluoride comments from councilmembers, put to rest the push by the Klickitat County Public Health Department and local health professionals, including dentists, to pass a fluoridation initiative.
“We’re spending thousands of dollars a year filtering our water,” said councilmember Alan Van Horn. “It seems hypocritical to put something in it.”
The vote came less than two weeks after a fluoridation forum organized by the Klickitat County Dept. of Public Health; the meeting began with a pro-fluoridation message, but developed into a cauldron of opposition when the floor was opened up for public comment.
Dr. Lyle Ferch, a Goldendale dentist, was present at the meeting as a member of the panel speaking in support of fluoridation. He admits he is disappointed with the council’s decision.
“The city council has done a disservice to the community,” said Ferch. “They’re not looking at valid science. They’re reacting to emotional appeal and scare tactics. I thought they had a little more to them than to choose to block the people’s chance to vote on the issue. I find it sad.”
Ferch claimed that, historically, no community with high concentrations of fluoride have shown any health problems. He went on to say that fluoridated toothpaste, rinse, floss and prescription tablets can help promote dental health, although he says “there is no better source than fluoridated water.”
Health concerns and costs proved to be the two major deterrents against fluoridation. While nearly 50 percent of state drinking water is fluoridated, many questions remain about long-term health effects.
“I’ve spent hundreds of hours researching this issue,” said councilmember Gwendolyn Grundei. “I was looking at it from a civil liberties slant. I found floodgates of information on the many health issues, surrounding fluoridation. There’s no definitive evidence that it does much for teeth. In fact, fluoride is an enzyme poisoner.”
The council’s decision comes a month after the White Salmon city council rejected a similar fluoridation proposal. Last year Wenatchee voters decided against fluoridation, while Yakima residents approved a pro-fluoride measure.
The Goldendale Department of Public Works commissioned a recent study on the costs of fluoridation that revealed a startup pricetag in excess of $200,000. Annual operating costs were estimated at approximately $13,000.