In a unanimous 7-0 vote, the Goldendale City Council voted to reject any proposal to add fluoride to the city’s water supply in their meeting Monday, Sept. 17.
The vote, preceded by a litany of anti-fluoride comments from councilmembers, put to rest the push by the Klickitat County Public Health Department and local health professionals, including dentists, to pass a fluoridation initiative.
“We’re spending thousands of dollars a year filtering our water,” said councilmember Alan Van Horn. “It seems hypocritical to put something in it.”
The vote came less than two weeks after a fluoridation forum organized by the Klickitat County Dept. of Public Health; the meeting began with a pro-fluoridation message, but developed into a cauldron of opposition when the floor was opened up for public comment.
Dr. Lyle Ferch, a Goldendale dentist, was present at the meeting as a member of the panel speaking in support of fluoridation. He admits he is disappointed with the council’s decision.
“The city council has done a disservice to the community,” said Ferch. “They’re not looking at valid science. They’re reacting to emotional appeal and scare tactics. I thought they had a little more to them than to choose to block the people’s chance to vote on the issue. I find it sad.”
Ferch claimed that, historically, no community with high concentrations of fluoride have shown any health problems. He went on to say that fluoridated toothpaste, rinse, floss and prescription tablets can help promote dental health, although he says “there is no better source than fluoridated water.”
Health concerns and costs proved to be the two major deterrents against fluoridation. While nearly 50 percent of state drinking water is fluoridated, many questions remain about long-term health effects.
“I’ve spent hundreds of hours researching this issue,” said councilmember Gwendolyn Grundei. “I was looking at it from a civil liberties slant. I found floodgates of information on the many health issues, surrounding fluoridation. There’s no definitive evidence that it does much for teeth. In fact, fluoride is an enzyme poisoner.”
The council’s decision comes a month after the White Salmon city council rejected a similar fluoridation proposal. Last year Wenatchee voters decided against fluoridation, while Yakima residents approved a pro-fluoride measure.
The Goldendale Department of Public Works commissioned a recent study on the costs of fluoridation that revealed a startup pricetag in excess of $200,000. Annual operating costs were estimated at approximately $13,000.