PENSACOLA — (AP) — Two newly elected members of a utility board have put fluoridation on hold in Escambia County, one of the few metropolitan areas that does not add the chemical to its drinking water.
The Escambia County Utilities Authority voted, 3-2, Thursday to halt the project. The new members tilted the scales against fluoridation, which is designed to prevent tooth decay.
The board, however, agreed to discuss the matter at another meeting before making a final decision because the panel failed to give public notice that it would come up Thursday.
“When I was campaigning, I talked to a lot of people who were worried about this,” said Logan Fink, one of the new members. “I’d like to hear from both sides.”
The other new member, Robert Tegenkamp, made the motion to stop fluoridation.
The authority had voted, 4-1, to proceed in 1998 after voters favored fluoridation by 58 percent in a nonbinding referendum.
Progress, however, has been slow, and the authority is still about six months from having the first wells on line. Once started, it would take about four years and $1.5 million to finish.
Dentists and the county Health Department have been pushing for fluoridation to improve dental health, but opponents contend that it could cause cancer and other ailments, a claim health officials deny.