Title: OUR VIEW: City Commission made right decision on fluoride
Earlier this month the City of Mt. Pleasant reduced the amount of fluoride added to the municipal water supply, in keeping with a resolution passed during June by the City Commission.
The move is controversial.
Two of six city commissioners voted against the June fluoride reduction measure. The nay votes were based on a belief that city voters had approved addition of fluoride to their water in a 2005 referendum, and that the will of the people should not be thwarted.
The 2005 referendum came on the heels of and reversed another public vote in 2004 to end fluoridation of the municipal water supply. Mt. Pleasant water has been artificially fluoridated since the 1950s, to prevent tooth decay.
But in 2006 the National Research Council released a report on fluoride in drinking water conducted for the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The report concluded, in part, that fluoride in drinking water may create health risks for some individuals.
In August 2008 the City Commission voted to temporarily reduce the amount of fluoride added to the water supply. The Commission also appointed a task force including one city commissioner and four city residents to study the issue.
After reviewing current scientific literature on the fluoridation issue, the task group concluded that emerging scientific evidence calls into serious question both the safety of fluoride ingestion and the real efficacy of municipal fluoridation in preventing tooth decay.
This May the task group released its report, and its recommendation to suspend artifical fluoridation of the Mt. Pleasant water supply, pending review of a still awaited EPA health and risk assessment.
The Mt. Pleasant task force’s recommendation was based on what is known as “the precautionary principle,” which advocates that when safety is in question, decision makers should err on the side of caution to avoid unintended harmful consequences.
The task force and the City Commission majority are to be commended for taking this route on the fluoridation issue.
Yes, the Commission’s decision to reduce the amount of fluoride added to the municipal water supply appears to thwart the will of a majority of citizens as expressed in the 2005 referendum vote.
Popular sentiment, however, does not necessarily make sound public policy. The fluoride issue has turned out to be a case in point. In this instance the task force and Commission majority recognized a higher duty and obligation to protect the public health and welfare to the best of their knowledge and ability.
This is an example of representative government rising above politics and working the way it should in the public’s behalf.