ESCONDIDO – A lawsuit aimed at stopping the city from adding a type of fluoride to its drinking water apparently will be decided by a jury.
In a written ruling, Vista Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Stern yesterday upheld her previous decision to deny a motion for summary judgment.
“We now have a jury to decide if our rights as citizens are going to be protected,” said Norm Blumenthal, an attorney for San Diego-based Citizens for Safe Drinking Water, which filed the original lawsuit in August 2001.
The case is scheduled to go to trial April 9.
The group is trying to block the city and the state from using hydrofluorosilic acid, which contains minute amounts of lead and arsenic, as the fluoride additive. A city attorney has argued that Escondido is following state guidelines, that most fluoridation is done with hydrofluorosilic acid, and that the amounts of lead and arsenic are so small they are almost undetectable and pose no health risk.
“There’s no excuse for the city to be able to do it unless they have some law that says that they are entitled to put lead and arsenic – not fluoride, but lead and arsenic – in the water,” Blumenthal said. “There’s no reason for a city or state to voluntarily expose the citizens to this danger of lead and arsenic. There’s other substances that they can use.”
Escondido plans to add fluoride at a rate of 0.05 parts per million. The city’s water naturally contains about 0.03 ppm, which means the fluoridated water will reach the target rate of 0.08 ppm, considered an effective level for fighting tooth decay.
“We’re still not fluoridating,” said Glen Peterson, the city’s interim utilities manager. “We’re waiting for the arrival of equipment to be installed so we can continue to check out the system to make sure it’s working properly. We have no anticipated start date at the moment.”