A city councilwoman is proposing to eliminate fluoride from Fairbanks’ public water supply.
The proposal follows growing worry from some residents that adding the compound to municipal water supplies causes health risks, concerns that conflict with other studies saying it’s safe.
Councilwoman Vivian Stiver will pitch the measure at tonight’s Fairbanks City Council meeting. If approved next month, the ordinance would halt the six-decade-old practice of supplementing water with sodium fluorosilicate, a type of fluoride that helps prevent tooth decay.
Stiver said people who want to protect their teeth have enough options — like brushing their teeth — to justify erasing the requirement that water be fluoridated, a law she said was instituted in the 1960s to meet state-recommended standards.
“Times have changed,” Stiver said. While certain health benefits of fluoride are undeniable, she said, people’s decision to use it “should be a matter of choice” and not a government mandate.
A group of residents have raised questions about the need to fluoridate public water, pointing to reports indicating the compound can be toxic. Members of the group, which includes some health care professionals, have pointed to studies that indicate fluoridation’s health benefits are eclipsed by the risks.
Ester writer Douglas Yates said he has been researching the issue for seven years and is convinced that a growing body of evidence — most recently a January article in “Scientific American” — proves sodium fluorosilicate is harmful and can hike the risk of various health disorders.
“Many people have become increasingly aware in the last month and a half that fluoride is dangerous,” Yates said.
Golden Heart Utilities, the city’s public water utility company, periodically tests drinking water for the presence of lead and copper to ensure minerals don’t leach into the water, company president Dan Gavora said.
Gavora declined to take a position on the appropriateness of fluoridated water.
“I’m unaware of any hard science proving” it’s dangerous, Gavora said. “We’re just following code … we’re happy to go either way.”
The City Council will begin its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at Fairbanks City Hall, located at 800 Cushman St.