PAGE — For those who don’t want fluoride in the water, there will be a chance to make a case against it. However, it won’t be before the Page City Council, but the ballot box instead.
The council unanimously voted Thursday night to put a question on the Nov. 7 ballot asking voters if they want to increase the fluoride in the water to 0.8 parts per million, the amount recommended by a local group of doctors to supposedly curb the rate of tooth decay for young children in Page.
The idea of letting the community decide the issue was initially brought up on June 8 by Councilor Lyle Dimbatt, who opined that the matter might be too polarized to be satisfied by a vote of the council. But it was Vice Mayor John Cook who formally requested last week that the question be put to voters.
“As we saw this evening, there is passion on both sides of this issue — real genuine passion,” Cook said. “My e-mail, quite often, the screen smokes with the stuff I get from people on both sides. I think this is something that is very legitimate for us to put as a question on the ballot.”
The proposed question, as read by Cook in his motion, is: “The city of Page shall fluoridate its domestic water, consistent with American Dental Association guidelines and Arizona Department of Environmental Quality regulations — Yes or no.”
Prior to the vote, the council heard from Lissa Bell, who is part of a committee called Citizens for a Drug-Free Water Supply. She noted that Page’s distant neighbor to the south, Flagstaff, has voted down efforts to fluoridate the water on several occasions. Bell also pointed out that the water in LeChee has been fluoridated, and it has not made a difference in the tooth decay situation.
“Current research shows that sodium fluoridate has been neither safe nor effective,” Bell said. “Fluoride is more toxic than lead.”
Citing research she has conducted into the matter, Bell said young children are more susceptible to a condition called dental fluorosis, which makes teeth more brittle. She noted several drugs containing fluoride, including the diet medication Fen-Phen, which had been recalled.
“Questions are being raised by doctors, dentists, researchers, health organizations, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), CDC (Centers for Disease Control), Nobel laureates, cities across America and countries all over the world about the safety, effectiveness and environmental impact of fluoridated water,” Bell said. “This practice is not done in countries such as Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Finland, Northern Ireland, Austria and the Czech Republic. In some of these countries, such as Germany and Sweden, the practice of adding sodium fluoride to the water supply is actually illegal.”
The act of fluoridating the water is an attempt to drug the community, in Bell’s opinion.
“We feel it is dangerous, unethical and fiscally irresponsible to medicate a population in this manner when there is any question on the safety and effectiveness of such a drug, as well as a violation of our civil rights to medicate us and our children without our consent with any drugs for any reason,” she said. “This constitutes medical battery.”
There are already numerous ways for people to get fluoride besides through the water, Bell commented.
“People are always getting fluoride from countless other sources, such as juice, soda, tea, beer, wine, cereals, and toothpaste,” she said.
Bell suggested that the council consider changing the ballot question from a simple matter of fluoridation to outlawing any kind of drugging agent in the water supply. Cook disagreed.
“I’m not putting this on the ballot for you, or for them (the pro-fluoride people),” he said. “I’m putting it on the ballot for the citizens of Page.”
Dimbatt agreed with Cook, pointing out that both sides of the fluoridation debate have legitimate facts.
“I did a ton of research on this subject,” Dimbatt said to Bell. “I’ll be honest with you; your information is no more credible than theirs. This is, without a doubt, the classic example of what the citizens of Page should be allowed to vote on.”