ERIE — With the town’s spring election just over a week away, a newly formed group opposed to putting fluoride in Erie’s drinking water is planning a mass-mail campaign.
The Committee for Clean Water in Erie, formed in the past couple of weeks, is planning to mail out literature addressing the dangers of fluoridated water.
Susan Augustoni, a three-year resident of Erie and a member of the nascent group, said it’s not only a health issue but a matter of preserving choice for the town’s 16,000 residents.
“Please respect your neighbors’ right to choose,” she said. “There are enough unknowns — and as long as there are other ways to get fluoride from other sources, why put it in the water for everyone to consume whether they want it or not?”
Fluoridation opponents argue that ingesting fluoride yields little dental benefit and may result in a litany of health problems, including bone fracture, bone cancer, joint pain, reduced thyroid activity and IQ deficits.
Major public health agencies in the United States have declared fluoridation to be an effective tool against tooth decay and one of the most important public health policies of the last century.
Nearly three-quarters of Coloradans on municipal water have fluoridated water, said Diane Brunson, director of the Oral Health Unit at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
“Any studies that show there may be some harmful effect from fluoridation are just not bound in science,” Brunson said. “We rely on studies from the Centers for Disease Control, the National Cancer Institutes and the National Institutes of Health.”
The debate over fluoridated water is nothing new in Erie.
The town’s elected leaders voted against the practice seven years ago after encountering stiff resistance from opponents, leaving Erie as one of the last municipalities in the state without supplemental fluoride in its water.
Now the matter is before the voters directly, as part of a spring mail-in election in which Erie will vote on the fluoride question and on three open trustee seats.
All ballots are due back at the town clerk’s office by April 1.
Dr. Sterling Stevens, Erie’s only dentist, said he isn’t actively involved in the fluoridation issue, but he makes available information at his office expounding the public health benefits of the compound.
“One of the things that makes me sick is seeing kids come in with cavities in their mouths when it’s so easy to arrest those cavities,” Stevens said. “It’s the most cost-effective way to go.”
But Augustoni, a mother of two, says pouring fluoride into the water is the equivalent of medicating it with an ingredient that has ill effects on people, especially children.
She said she moved to Erie in part because it doesn’t have fluoride in its drinking water.
Same with Holly Vest, who moved from Boulder six years ago. She was hopeful word about the anti-fluoridation campaign would reach residents before they mail their ballots back to the town clerk.
“I think a lot of people just don’t know about it,” Vest said.