Fluoride Action Network

McKinleyville: Water fluoridation issue goes to citizens’ committee

Source: The Eureka Reporter | March 20th, 2008 | By NATHAN RUSHTON

The controversial effort to explore whether to add fluoride to its customers’ drinking water is out of the hands of the McKinleyville Community Services District Board of Directors.

As part of its ongoing discussion on fluoridation, the MCSD took up the matter to plan for what comes next during its regular monthly meeting Wednesday.

After hearing lengthy testimony from dozens of concerned customers who opposed the chemical additive, the board approved 4-1, which director Jeff Dunk voting against, to send the matter to a citizens’ committee to put the issue to the voters in an upcoming general election vote.

But a McKinleyville citizens’ committee on fluoride doesn’t exist and there wasn’t any clear direction from the board to form such a committee nor was there any indication from anyone in the audience that they had any plans to take such a move on.

In response to calls from the audience to clarify just what the vote meant, MCSD General Manager Tom Marking offered his own interpretation.

“It’s a polite way of saying we are not doing anything,” Marking told the crowd.

Noticeably absent from Wednesday’s discussion was the unnamed MCSD customer who district staff said initiated the controversial matter in December 2006 with a request for fluoridation to be discussed.

The board did take up the matter shortly after the customer request and an ad hoc committee formed on the issue led to a survey being launched in October 2007 in which 355 McKinleyville and Fieldbrook residents were asked if they supported fluoridation.

The results from Bella Vista Research showed 59 percent of the respondents supported fluoridation, 26 percent opposed it and 15 percent didn’t have an opinion on the issue.

During the meeting Wednesday night, the directors listened to more than an hour of arguments — in three-minute increments — from the water district’s customers who overwhelmingly were opposed to adding fluoride to their water and lined up to tell the directors.

Many of the comments were a repeat of the arguments made against the fluoride issue that preceded the recent elections that halted fluoridation of Manila residents’ water and the continuation of fluoride in Arcata’s drinking water.

That it is a medicine delivered to everyone with potential health effects and no clear proof it is actually effective was a concern raised by many.

But there were at least two who did support fluoride.

One was McKinleyville resident Dr. Ann Lindsay, Humboldt County’s health officer, who repeated her message from previous meetings that adding fluoride is proven to be safe and the most effective way to deliver fluoride to residents who can’t get adequate dental care.

But many residents said a more cautious approach is needed in light of numerous university and public health scientists’ studies underway aimed at taking a closer look at the benefits and potential risks from fluoride.