Tooele voters have turned down a fluoridation proposal for a third time. Despite new residents that proponents thought might be more inclined to vote for fluoridation, it was defeated by a larger margin than in the 1999 election.
Jim Busico of Tooele, a local realtor and fluoride critic, said the anti-fluoride activists were successful in causing voters to doubt the advice of the dental and medical establishments.
“Being able to say that [voters] should trust their dentists wasn’t good enough … There’s so much controversy over fluoride … that it caused reasonable doubt,” Busico said. “Anytime you have reasonable doubt, why take a chance?”
Dr. Clair Vernon, a Tooele dentist and fluoridation proponent, said he was “surprised and disappointed” that Tooele had voted against fluoridation.
“I’m just sad that Tooele is not going to benefit from fluoridated water,” he said. “They don’t realize what they’re missing.”
Voters rejected fluoride by a wider margin than they did in the 1999 election; 66 percent voted down fluoridation in this election, while 64 percent opposed it in the past.
“Our rationale [in putting fluoride on the ballot again this year] was that Tooele has changed since the last time it was voted on,” Tooele City Councilman John Hansen said at an October meeting.
Voters in newer parts of Tooele did favor fluoride slightly more than the rest of the city, but the opposition was overwhelming in most precincts. Overlake voted for fluoridation more readily than any other precinct, but even there only 51 percent were in favor.
Fluoridation was opposed by 54 percent in precinct three, the southeast corner of Tooele where voter turnout was highest in the city. Precinct 13 around Tooele High School also had high turnout at 44 percent. Proposition one was defeated resoundingly there with 75 percent of voters opposing fluoridation.
The central city neighborhood of precinct five voted against fluoride by a whopping 84 percent, the widest margin citywide.
The controversial ballot initiative sparked a heated debate. Yard signs both for and against fluoridation sprung up around the city. Letters to the editor regarding the initiative flooded the opinion section of this newspaper, burying discussion of any other issue for weeks.
Proponents of fluoridation held strong to the view held by the majority of the health organizations that fluoride strengthens and prevents cavities. Few scientists, and no state or federal government agencies have advised against water fluoridation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has listed community water fluoridation as one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the century.
Many critics said the government and the dental industry have failed to adequately assess new data that shows fluoride is not as effective as once thought.
Dr. William Hirzy, vice president of the National Treasury Employees Union Chapter 280 and a chemist at the Environmental Protection Agency, said the government has “toxic pork issues to deal with.” He said the fertilizer industry profits from selling hydrofluorosilic acid & the most popular fluoridation product used across the country.
Critics of fluoridation said it’s useless in helping teeth & some claimed it makes teeth worse & and accused the water additive of causing bone cancer, arthritis, hip fractures, Alzheimer’s disease and a whole host of other health problems.
Some studies have shown links between fluoride and various health conditions. National reviews of the studies regarding fluoride, most prominently by the National Academy of Sciences in 1994, concluded the research strongly supported fluoridation’s safety and effectiveness. The Academy is scheduled to publish another review in February 2006.