Fluoride Action Network

Durango: Brushing up on the ballot

Source: The Durango Telegraph | March 23rd, 2017 | By Tracy Chamberlin
Location: United States, Colorado

City residents will decide whether or not to continue to fluoridate city water. Those in favor of removing it say it’s uneccesary and worst case, poisonous. Those wanting to keep it say it’s beneficial to public health, particularly for lower income families.

It may be short and sweet, but it’s not without controversy. The ballots for the April 4 election in Durango have only two items: the race for Durango City Council and one ballot initiative on fluoride.

The question on fluoride – Question 1A – is whether or not it should be added to the city’s drinking water. It turns out it’s a controversial question several years in the making.

In that time, the debate over fluoride has made the rounds through various advisory boards, council discussions and public meetings. In the end, the City Council voted unanimously to continue adding 0.5 milligrams of sodium fluoride to the 0.2 mg already in the water supply naturally to get the 0.7 mg federal and state public health officials recommend to help residents with cavity prevention.

Following that decision, a group of local advocates filed a petition with the city, triggering a process in which the Council can either approve a citizen-driven ordinance or send it to the voters. In this case, they sent it to the voters.

The ordinance proposed by the group bans city staff from adding fluoride to the water supply. The actual question on the ballot is whether or not the ordinance should be approved. If approved (a “yes” vote), city employees would be prohibited from adding fluoride to the water supply, a process called fluoridation. If it’s not approved (a “no” vote), they will continue to add it.

It’s something Durango officials have been doing since 1956. The practice originally began after an unexpected discovery in the early 1900s. A dentist in Colorado Springs noticed communities with higher levels of naturally occurring fluoride had fewer cavities than those without it. His revelation led to several studies, and by the 1950s, communities starting adding it to their water supplies to help with cavity prevention.

Fast forward half a century, and some communities have stopped the practice completely. Those who oppose fluoridation worry about potential toxicity and persistent exposure. They question whether it is a government’s role to make a decision about fluoridation – or if residents should be able to make the decision themselves.

Those who support fluoridation are concerned with the potential adverse effects ending the practice could have on children, particularly those in low-income households. They cite studies showing children who live in communities that add fluoride have fewer cavities than those who do not.

Both sides have campaigns to get the word out and websites full of information.

Those who want to end the practice and vote “yes” for the ordinance can be found at www.cleanwaterdurango.org.

Those who support fluoridation and a “no” vote against the ordinance can be found at www.voteno1adurango.org.

The second item on the ballot is the race for the Durango City Council. Although three seats are open, only one current council member is running for re-election – Dean Brookie. Mayor Christina Rinderle is termlimited and Councilor Keith Brant decided not to run again.

The four residents hoping to fill their seats are Melissa Youssef, Tom Eskew, Dave McHenry and Chris Bettin…

• Read full article online at https://www.durangotelegraph.com/news/top-stories/brushing-up-on-the-ballot/