WATSONVILLE — After losing a battle to participate in a local lawsuit, the city’s foremost fluoride foe opened a new front in Sacramento Tuesday.
Nick Bulaich, who spearheaded a successful ballot initiative last year that in effect banned fluoride from city water, filed suit against state and county health officials in Sacramento Superior Court for failing to carry out a 1995 law that calls for providing topical fluoride treatments to students in public and private schools.
Another lawsuit, filed in Santa Cruz County Superior Court by Watsonville city officials against the California Department of Health Services, seeks to block the state agency from forcing fluoridation of the city water supply. The court denied Bulaich permission to participate in that legal action earlier this month.
The new lawsuit seeks to prove that fluoridation is unnecessary, said Bulaich, who worries there’s insufficient research to prove the benefit or discount the possible harm of ingesting fluoride through public water systems.
“The state has already mandated a far less intrusive plan that doesn’t wipe out a charter city’s right to manage its own affairs or interfere with a consumer’s right to choose what medications to swallow,” he said.
Dr. Jim Jacobson, an orthodontist who has been practicing in Watsonville since 1971 and a Monterey Bay Dental Society board member, called Bulaich’s argument “bogus.”
Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay, and a topical application to children’s teeth is a good idea, he said. But it doesn’t replace ingestion of fluoride, which strengthens the structure of teeth.
“We want to do everything we can do to keep kids from getting decay… so kids don’t suffer and grow up with healthy teeth,” Jacobson said.
County officials did not return calls, and a state official couldn’t immediately comment on the suit.
Water fluoridation has been in place since 1945, and 62 percent of the country’s population receives fluoridated tap water.