The mayor-appointed task force studying whether to keep fluoride in Juneau’s water is asking for more time so it can consider an upcoming National Academy of Sciences report on toxicological risk.
The committee met for the first time on July 6 and considered an extension on the Nov. 1 deadline for its report. The risk study is expected sometime in November.
“They will review toxicological, epidemiological and clinical data, particularly data published since 1993. They have the best researchers and scientists. We should wait for their report before we make our final recommendations,” said Eric Paulson, a task force member and a dentist.
Juneau’s seven-member fluoridation task force was established after the city Public Works Department stopped adding fluoride to public drinking water last June without informing the public. After public outcry, the city resumed fluoridation.
Fluoridation is not a controversy new to Juneau. In the late 1960s, the Juneau Assembly struggled with the issue, but eventually passed an ordinance in 1971 to put fluoride in the water supply. The debate then died down until last June.
Although City Manager Rod Swope ordered Public Works to resume fluoridating the city’s drinking water, Mayor Bruce Botelho appointed the task force to study the subject and give the Assembly its final recommendation on Nov. 1.
At their first meeting, task force members shared data they had collected earlier.
“At this stage, we are not looking for answers but for more knowledge,” said task member Jamie Bursell, a personal fitness trainer and a human anatomy teacher.
After two hours of discussions, the task force decided to ask the Assembly to extend its deadline until a subcommittee under the National Academy of Sciences finishes its study on fluoridation. The subcommittee was established at the request of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
At the Juneau fluoridation task force’s next meeting on July 28, the group will invite Public Works Director Joe Buck to talk about fluoridation in drinking water and accept public comment.