FARMINGTON — Davis County Health Director Lewis R. Garrett assured the Davis County Commission on Tuesday that fluoride suppliers are giving water operators information about the ingredients of the fluoride mix being added to the county’s drinking-water system, and that federal and state drinking-water regulations are being met.
Based on that, Garrett recommended the commission “take no action” on earlier concerns expressed by County Attorney Troy Rawlings or options Rawlings suggested.
Garrett’s comments and his recommendation come on the heels of Rawlings telling the commission the fluoride suppliers were not providing to his office, upon his written request, information about the chemicals being used in the fluoride mix.
Garrett said he doesn’t condone that lack of response by suppliers.
Had suppliers responded to Rawlings’ request for labeling information in March 2009, Garrett said, he wouldn’t be explaining to the commission now that the chemicals being added for fluoridation are safe. He said the county is at “minuscule” exposure when it comes to liability in adding the chemicals to the water.
Garrett said it’s possible the information wasn’t provided to Rawlings because of the detailed work involved and Rawlings’ request for certification paperwork that may not have been readily available.
“If Garrett is correct, that the suppliers are providing it to the water districts, then why would it have been difficult to provide it to me?” asked Rawlings, who did not attend Tuesday’s meeting but commented when contacted.
The commission continues to review the matter to determine what action, if any, it should take.
Rawlings said two of the companies contacted him and refused to reveal which chemicals are used, while three other suppliers failed to respond at all.
The same letter drafted by Rawlings, requesting the information, was sent to the suppliers under the heading of the state Department of Environmental Quality. It, too, received no response.
“Should it matter to us that we are able to tell the public what is being put into the water?” Rawlings asked the commission in his Feb. 22 presentation.
At that time, Rawlings suggested the commission look at five options:• Take no action and rely on the health department to continue to regulate the process;
• Establish a committee to look at the concern scientifically;
• Hold a legal hearing to get the chemical ingredients from suppliers;
• Put the fluoride issue back on the election ballot for a third vote; or
• Place a temporary moratorium on adding fluoride to the water system until a decision is reached.
Garrett said he does not want to see a perpetual vote on the issue, something that could cost taxpayers in both election and infrastructure costs should the voting result in changes having to be made to the water system.
In 2000, by 52 to 48 percent, voters approved adding fluoride to the county’s drinking water. That vote was reaffirmed in 2004, when voters, by 51 to 49 percent, approved adding fluoride to the drinking water.
The fluoride-labeling issue first surfaced in October 2009 when Waterwatch of Utah Director Lorna Rosenstein submitted to Rawlings’ office her concern about the health department’s 2006 decision not to issue a health advisory warning about the risk of overexposing infants to fluoride. A similar warning was issued earlier by federal health organizations.
Rawlings said his research didn’t show the county or health department to be liable for how that advisory was handled, in which county health officials readjusted downward the amount of fluoride being added to the drinking water.
Rosenstein, who attended Tuesday’s commission meeting, said she favors holding a hearing on the fluoride-labeling issue so that everything will be put on the table.