The Mebane City Council members said Monday evening nothing had generated more e-mails and given the members 500-page reports to study like the recent fluoride campaign dud with zeal on both sides.
Mayor pro tem Patty Philipps said the amount of “detailed analysis” and all the information she read persuaded her to vote in favor of continuing the practice of fluoridation in the drinking water.
Before the council voted on the recommendation, with a unanimous vote for the fluoridation, they heard from lots of folks that had signed up for public comment.
A packed house on Monday evening at the council meeting showed citizen interest with all the public comments except one being centered on the fluoride debate.
Local dentists came out in huge support, prompting one city official to tease them about a dental convention being held in council chambers.
Public comment began with Kathy Colville, a mom, a representative of the Alamance County Board of Health, with a master’s degree in health. She spoke in favor of community wide fluoridation, citing historic declines in disease as a result of the practice. “It has reduced tooth decay, 20 to 40 percent reduction of cavities, not just in a quality of life, but as a top 10 health issue and achievement.” She said there was no toxic range, and that the American Dental Association and World Health Organization supported fluoridation. It’s a practice that is healthy, safe, and cost effective.”
The next speaker, Barbara McKinley, said as a mom she was speaking from her heart and wanted to know some answers to her questions: “Are you 100 percent sure it (fluoride) does no harm? Is the fluoride a pure mineral or the byproduct of a manufacturing plant? How can you make this decision if you don’t know science?”
Council member Tim Bradley said he knew fluoride came out of rock, not a natural herb, but he was not prepared to speak as a scientist. He even said some of the literature did not make sense to him and he relied on scientists, dentists, even his personal doctor who had called him.
McKinley asked, “If it is not mined from rocks, are there other chemicals harmful? She questioned if the American Dental Association was wrong.”
Local dentist Dr. Mike Blankenship said that in his 30 plus years as a dentist, he saw not danger with fluoride in the drinking water. “Statistics can say anything. I see nothing dangerous when it is properly used, the proper amounts as it has for decades. It’s good for our dental health. Any decision to remove it needs to be seriously considered.”
Local dentist Dr. Jason Troutman spoke as a father of three, a dentist in Mebane, and as the President of the Alamance County Dental Society.
“I’m in full support of the existing fluoride program,” said Troutman. “This Society was instrumental in obtaining fluoride in the drinking water. It’s safe and has been for 40 years plus. The Society has not changed its position. We would like for the City to maintain the practice as it is.”
Local dentist Dr. Steve Slott said that in his practice he had seen “the devastation of poor dental care,” especially among families with children that could not afford it. “For these people, I struggle. Fluoride is one of the few preventive measures for dental decay for these children. Fluoridation was never meant to eradicate dental disease. But it would be a lot worse if we didn’t have it.”
Slott said he had thoroughly researched the fluoride issue and found no evidence of any adverse effects. He also mentioned that the Alamance-Burlington School System had sent a resolution to the Mebane City Council to lend its support of fluoridation.
Dr. Joel Walker, a long-time dentist, in Graham for over 28 years, said he has seen kids for over 40 years and seen the benefits of fluoridation.
Former mayor of Graham Victor Euliss said the decision affects not only Graham and Mebane but all the areas, especially the kids, where Mebane sells water. “The zeal comes from both sides. I told (Victor) Quick, if you can’t afford the $15,000, I’ll write the check.”