CARSON CITY (AP) – A proposal to put fluoride in drinking water in Reno and Las Vegas was approved on a 26-16 vote Thursday by the Nevada Assembly.
The controversial bill was backed by dentists who said they constantly see children with mouths full of cavities because Nevada is one of the few places that doesn’t fluoridate its water.
Just 2 percent of the water in Nevada is fluoridated, compared with a 62 percent average nationwide.
But critics say flouride is an industrial hazardous waste that causes cancer and hip fractures and reduces intelligence in children.
AB284, which would let the state Board of Health determine optimal fluoride levels, was proposed by Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani, D-Las Vegas. She introduced a similar bill two years ago, but it died partly because of the costs for equipment to fluoridate water.
Giunchigliani said she’s confident AB284 will pass this session, even though Gov. Kenny Guinn opposes mandatory fluoridation. He wants the question left to local governments.
Giunchigliani’s bill calls for the state to pay the $6.4 million startup costs of the fluoridation. It also must go before the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, which already has dozens of requests for additional funds.
The Las Vegas Valley Water District estimates fluoridation would cost $4.4 million for startup equipment, and then about $500,000 a year in operational costs. In Washoe County, startup costs would be about $2 million and $513,000 a year for operational costs.