Fluoride Action Network

Palmer Ordinance that ended fluoridation

Source: City of Palmer Ordinance No. 11-007 | October 30th, 2011
Location: United States, Alaska



Subject: Ordinance No. 11-007: Repealing Palmer Municipal Code Section 8.12.010, City Manager Duty, to Prohibit the Addition of Fluoride to the Public Water Supply

Agenda of: October 11, 2011

Summary statement:

In response to concerns about the risks of fluoride in the Palmer public water supply, the City Council directed the administration to investigate the issue and in response to the investigation, it has determined that an ordinance be introduced ending the addition of fluoride to the public water supply. The water fluoridation concerns included moral, ethical, safety, and efficacy aspects of adding fluoride to the public water supplies.

BRIEF HISTORY OF FLUORIDATION (from various internet sources)

Community water fluoridation in the United States is partly due to the research of Dr. Frederick McKay, who pressed the dental community in 1909 for an investigation into what became known as dental fluorosis. Despite the negative impact on the physical appearance of their teeth, the children whom Dr. McKay studied had stained, mottled and pitted teeth but also had fewer cavities than other children. McKay brought this to the attention of Dr. G.V. Black, and Black’s interest was followed by greater interest within the dental profession.

Fluoridation became an official policy of the U.S. Public Health Service by 1951, and by 1960 water fluoridation had become widely used in the U.S. McKay’s work established that fluorosis occurred before tooth eruption. Others assumed that fluoride’s protection against cavities was also pre-eruptive, and this incorrect assumption was accepted for years.

By 2000, the topical effects of fluoride (in both water and toothpaste) were well understood, and it had become known that a constant low level of fluoride in the mouth works best to prevent cavities.

Fluoridation has been the subject of many court cases wherein activists have sued municipalities, asserting that their rights to consent to medical treatment and due process are infringed by mandatory water fluoridation. Individuals have sued municipalities for a number of illnesses that they believe were caused by fluoridation of the city’s water supply. In most of these cases, the courts have held in favor of cities, finding no or only a tenuous connection between health problems and widespread water fluoridation. (Beck v. City Council of Beverly Hills, 30 Cal. App. 3d 112, 115 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. 1973) (“Courts through the United States have uniformly held that fluoridation of water is a reasonable and proper exercise of the police power in the interest of public health. The matter is no longer an open question.” citations omitted).

To date, no federal appellate court or state court of last resort (i.e., state supreme court) has found water fluoridation to be unlawful. (Pratt, Edwin, Raymond D. Rawson & Mark Rubin, Fluoridation at Fifty: What Have We Learned, 30 J.L. Med. & Ethics 117, 119 (Fall 2002)


On June 6, 2011, the Fairbanks City Council voted 5-1 to end the practice of adding fluoride to city drinking water. The ordinance was introduced by Mayor Jerry Cleworth after recommendations made by the Fairbanks Fluoride Task Force.

The task force, created by the City Council to study the fluoridation issue, recommended the ban even though the American Dental Association, the Alaska Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention support the use of fluoride in public water supplies to help prevent tooth decay.

The task force found that no fluoride should be added because city water already contains naturally occurring fluoride and higher levels could harm non-nursing infants.

Fairbanks water has natural fluoride levels of 0.3 parts per million. The utility for years had been boosting those levels to 1 parts per million (ppm), based on federal health recommendations. It lowered the level to 0.7 ppm earlier this year when recommendations changed.

The vote, which closes an issue that first came to the council three years ago, came after more than an hour of public testimony, most of it in favor of removing the added fluoride. Many people pointed out that fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash is available in stores, while others said fluoride should not be added to drinking water without the consent of the public.


Beginning January 15, 2007, the City of Juneau ceased adding fluoride to the drinking water. Two years prior, the Assembly appointed a six-member Fluoride Study Commission and charged them with several tasks: researching and evaluating the scientific literature regarding the use of fluoride in municipal drinking water; performing a cost/benefit and risk analysis regarding the use of fluoride in municipal drinking water; and finally, making recommendations regarding the use of fluoride in the City’s drinking water.

After two years of work, the Commission issued its final report in July 2006 and was split in its recommendations. Three members supported continued fluoridation, believing it to be safe and effective in helping to prevent tooth decay; two members recommended that fluoridation be discontinued, believing it to be potentially unsafe and of doubtful efficacy in fighting tooth decay; and one member recommended that fluoridation be discontinued, believing that the evidence did not show fluoridation to be safe and effective with sufficient certainty.

In addition to reviewing the Commission’s report and receiving written comments on the issue from dozens of residents, the Assembly listened to extensive public testimony on fluoridation at its November 20, 2006 meeting. Then, after debating the issue at that meeting and again on December 11, 2006, the Assembly – attempting to balance uncertain benefits and risks – voted to cease fluoridation.


Despite dental pressure, 99% of western continental Europe has rejected, banned, or stopped fluoridation due to environmental, health, legal, or ethical concerns. Only about 5% of the world population is fluoridated and more than 50% of these people live in North America. The Danish Minister of Environment recommended against fluoridation in 1977 because “no adequate studies had been carried out on its long-term effects on human organ systems other than teeth and because not enough studies had been done on the effects of fluoride discharges on freshwater ecosystems.”

“In 1978, the West German Association of Gas & Water Experts rejected fluoridation for legal reasons and because ‘the so-called optimal fluoride concentration of 1 mg per L is close to the dose at which long-term damage [to the human body] is to be expected.'” (Quotes from: Hilleman B, “FLUORIDATION: Contention won’t go away,” Chemical and Engineering News, 1988 Aug, 66:31 (The [ ] brackets were in the original article.)


On February 14, 1967, Palmer City Council approved Ordinance number 136 which officially began the fluoridation of Palmer’s public water supply.

At present, Palmer adds fluoride to the water to achieve a level of 0 .7 – 1.0 ppm. Palmer well water contains naturally occurring fluoride. The Public Works Department conducted a 15 day monitoring period of naturally occurring fluoride levels in our municipal water wells.

15 day averages of naturally occurring fluoride levels:

Well # 1 – 0.71 ppm
Well # 4 – 0.20 ppm
Well # 5 – 0.18 ppm

State recommended levels = 1.0 to 1.2 PPM

Below is a breakdown of materials and labor costs to fluoridate in 2009, 2010, and to date in 2011.

Ordinance no. 11-007 stops and prohibits the addition of fluoride, in any form, to the public water supply.

Year 2009 – $7,470.00
Year 2010 – $4,340.00
Year 2011 – $4,429.00

Administration recommendation: Adopt ordinance number 11-007.