Grand Island voters have once again opted out of adding fluoride to the city’s water supply.
“It’s a matter of freedom of choice,” said Charles Carpenter, a spokesman for the Fluoride Information Center’s Grand Island Chapter of Nebraskans for Safe Drinking Water. “If you want fluoride, you can go get it.”
Grand Island voters cast 8,520 ballots to prohibit fluoride from the water system to 6,998 votes against the prohibition.
Carpenter said the source of the fluoride, hydrofluorosilicic acid, can’t be easily controlled.
The group wanted to keep fluoride out of the water because the group’s members don’t believe it is safe. Carpenter said previously that there haven’t been any studies on the safety of hydrofluorosilicic acid. He added that fluoride isn’t effective and said the process to add fluoride to the water is expensive.
Teresa Anderson, executive director of the Central District Health Department, was watching the fluoride votes in several Central Nebraska communities Tuesday night.
She was in favor of adding fluoride to the water because she believes it is the most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay and improve oral health over a lifetime. She said it reaches everyone and it is safe.
“I’m not extremely surprised,” Anderson said of the vote’s result. “It’s disheartening because we know the importance of this.”
She hopes it will come up again in the future, and until then, she will continue to work on educating the public on the safety and benefits of fluoride.
“The fight in public health care is getting people to understand the importance of prevention,” she said.
Anderson said she thought the measure was defeated in Grand Island because voters were afraid fluoride isn’t safe and it costs too much to set up. In these tough economic times, people may be looking for ways to save money immediately and might not be looking at the long-term savings, she said.
She added that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have determined there are no safety issues with the 1 ppm amount of fluoride in the water and the center is widely regarded as the “bible of health issues.”
“We have to keep up on the education,” she said. “This works in 70 percent of the nation’s population.”
In addition to Grand Island, fluoride measures were also defeated in Hastings, Wood River, Ord, Ravenna, Aurora, Shelton, Broken Bow, Central City, Stromsburg and St. Paul.