MANILA – Members of anti-fluoridation group Humboldt Free gathered in Manila last Thursday to outline their intentions following the defeat of anti-fluoride Measure B in that community. The advisory measure was defeated on an overwhelming 164 to 60 vote.
“We believe that with this vote, the residents of Manila have made their wishes perfectly clear in regards to freedom of choice,” said Colleen Clifford, a Manila resident.
She said those who wish to use fluoride may do so with supplements on an individual basis, “preserving freedom of choice.” Clifford called on the Manila Community Services District and Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District (HBMWD) to respect the stated will of Manila voters.
The HBMWD is considering centralized fluoridation for its seven municipal water customers, one of which is Manila. A logistical-cost study was recently completed, and will be discussed at the water district’s meeting this Thursday morning at 9 a.m.
Humboldt Free co-organizer Liz Finger said the group has no plans to re-initiate a drive to end fluoridation in Arcata. Measure W, which would have done that, was defeated by Arcata voters in 2005.
Instead, they plan to lobby individual municipal governing bodies where fluoridation is being considered.
Apart from Arcata and Eureka, whose water is already fluoridated, the HBMWD fluoridation proposal would affect drinking water in Blue Lake, McKinleyville, Fieldbrook-Glendale and Cutten, along with Manila.
Fluoride is difficult and expensive to remove from water into which it has been introduced. It is speculated that Manila’s rejection of fluoride could complicate, or even render unworkable centralized fluoridation for the rest of the water district’s customers.
The group rejected fluoride supporters’ claims that the substance is key to the dental health of low-income children by saying that more attention should be paid to medically underserved families.
The group called on county officials to step up outreach to the medically underserved rather than push for “mass medication,” and for more area dentists to accept Medi-Cal reimbursements for dental care.
“Wouldn’t it be great to see Ann Lindsay take leadership as our county’s health officer?” said co-organizer Paul Cienfuegos.
Humboldt Free members also called for the matter to be placed before voters in all communities where fluoridation is being considered.