Fluoride Action Network

Heated debate over fluoridation of Bellingham’s drinking water

Source: King 5 Seattle News | October 18th, 2005 | By JANE McCARTHY / KING 5 News

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – The Centers for Disease Control considers adding fluoride to water as “one of the ten great public-health achievements of the 20th century.”

But fluoridating water to fight tooth decay is back in the spotlight in Bellingham, Wash.

On November 8, Bellingham residents will be asked to decide whether or not they’d like to see fluoride added to their drinking water.

Now there is an intensity flowing behind Bellingham’s fluoride initiative and the question has prompted a heated debate, even gaining the attention of Time magazine.

“I actually had a dead rat in my mailbox and some threatening phone calls,” said fluoridation supporter and retired dentist, Dr. Curtis Smith. “We have here rampant caries, which is seven or more teeth with decay, is three times as high as Seattle. Seattle’s fluoridated and we’re not.”

But the organized opposition says brushing your teeth does the trick. They say ingesting fluoride is unsafe citing some studies linking it to bone cancer, arthritis and hip fractures.

“The hip fracture studies that were done, there were probably 13 that related to fluoride and nine of them implicated fluoride,” said chiropractor, Dr. Terry Poth, who opposes fluoridation.

“The vast majority of health care professionals and the great bulk of scientific opinion is that this is safe, it’s effective and it’s something we should do,” said Smith.

Poth thinks polar opposite.

“Fluoride has been classified as a drug. It’s a drug to treat tooth decay and it’s a form of mass medication to do this,” he said.

Both men insist what they want is simply best for Bellingham.

“Well, I certainly hope we win on the 8th of November,” said Smith.

“Personally, I would get a reverse osmosis filter for my water at home,” said Poth.

Communities like Lakewood, Sumner and Spokane have rejected fluoridation.

The state Department of Health supports fluoridation overall calling it “safe and effective.” 58 percent of Washington’s cities have fluoridated drinking water. The national average is 62 percent.