Water fluoridation was approved in last week’s election by a 52-47 majority in Davis County and a 58-42 margin in Salt Lake County, but to those opposed to fluoridation that margin was not wide enough to be called a clear mandate.
“If we’d had another week (to get the message out), we could have won, said Rae Howard, one of the foremost opponents of fluoride in the state, and head of the Health Forum of Utah.
Lawyer Martin Tanner, hired to file the lawsuit, said he plans on filing the class action suit hopefully within the next month. It’s being brought by about 100 Salt Lake and Davis County residents, led by Salt Lake Dentist Marc Flack.
While Tanner would not give details on the suit Monday saying, “We don’t want to give the other side a heads-up,” he said he is pursuing three or four legal theories, which he believes will bring about the desired result — reversing the decision to fluoride water because it is dangerous and infringes on personal freedom.
But proponents of fluoride don’t think the anti-fluoride forces have a chance. “The whole campaign and tactics of the anti-fluoridationists have been tried throughout the country,” said Beth Beck, president of the Davis Board of Health. “It’s been taken all the way to the Supreme Court and remanded 13 times because it’s (fluoride) been seen as a legitimate public health measure. They have no case.”
To support her view, Beck points to information put out by the American Dental Association, which says, “Courts have consistently ruled that water fluoridation is not a form of compulsory mass medicine or socialized medicine…Fluoridation simply provides an individual with an increased level of protection against developing dental disease.”
The ADA also points out that the position of American courts has been that a significant government interest in the health and welfare of the public overrides individual objections to public health regulations.
But Tanner believes the group has a case. “If I didn’t think we have a reasonable chance of winning, I wouldn’t have taken the case,” he said.
Howard said wherever those opposed to fluoridation have had ample time to educate the public, the measure has been defeated.
Nationally, more than half the communities with fluoridation on the ballot this year defeated it. Here in Utah, it was defeated last week in Cache County.
Howard points out that in Davis County, support for the measure dropped from 70 to 80 percent a few months ago, to a gap of only 3,000 ballots. “Given another week and fluoride would have gone down,” she said. “Cache County voted it down.
“We may have lost some rounds, but we feel good about what took place. There was a tremendous outpouring for our position.
“We took the high road,” Howard said, adding that even if they lose this court battle, her group and others will continue educating people about fluoride. “This battle isn’t done in the state. They’ll (fluoride proponents) want to extend the option statewide. It’s important people know that there is a scientific controversy about fluoridation. There really is a controversy. You have prestigious, accredited people coming out against fluoridation. A lot of them have some real concerns about treating people,” Howard said.
And, as to it being a legitimate public health measure, Howard points out that in the 1920s iodine was added to water supplies to prevent goiter. It hurt pregnant women and they eventually took iodine out of water and placed it in salt. “There’s too many questions not answered adequately or not answered at all,” Howard said
Salt Lake dentist Marc Flack, who is one of the state’s few dentists opposed to fluoride, spearheaded effort for the lawsuit. He said fluoridation is a “total violation of our rights.”
In addition, he contends there is no science showing fluoridation should be done. He said one bowl of Wheaties has 10 parts per million fluoride, because it has been dried and concentrated.
Flack said he’s heard that even the ADA has stated that to determine a correct, no-harming dose of fluoride would require a total dietary analysis. “And pregnant women and infants under six months old should not be given fluoride at all,” he said.
He said this is a war, and the pro-fluoride advocates have only won the first round.