PORT ANGELES — A Thursday forum will kick off two weeks of city water fluoridation scrutiny that will culminate in a Nov. 6 advisory survey of 10,000 water users.
Council members will use the results when deciding whether to continue fluoridating city water pumped from the Elwha River.
A pledge made 10 years ago to the Washington Dental Service Foundation to do so ends after May 18, 2016.
The forum, which will begin at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 321 E. Fifth St., will feature committees for and against fluoridation.
Public comment, which will not be taken Thursday, will be accepted at a meeting from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 29 at the same location.
Earlier Thursday at 1 p.m., Clean Water for Clallam County will sponsor an “End Fluoridation Rally” at The Gateway transit center pavilion at Front and Lincoln streets, with a march to Olympic Medical Center at 939 Caroline St., beginning at 2:30 p.m.
The pro-fluoridation committee featured at Thursday’s forum is composed of Chairman Dr. Thomas Locke, Dr. Bri Butler, Dr. Todd Irwin and Dr. Madeleine Harrington.
The anti-fluoridation committee consists of committee Chairwoman Dr. Eloise Kailin, Dr. Bill Osmunsun and Stephanie Noblin.
The forum, moderated by Sue Erzen, past president of the Clallam County League of Women Voters, will include 10-minute opening remarks by each side.
In a recent interview, Kailin said fluoridation can cause fluorosis, which is marked by mottling of the teeth.
Kailin called fluoridation forced medication and said fluoride already is available in foods from Coca-Cola to broccoli.
Her group, the Yes for Clean Water Committee of Protect the Peninsula’s Future, has rented a billboard east of town and placed an anti-fluoridation message on it. The cost is more than $1,800 for six months.
The committees will have four minutes at Thursday’s forum to answer each of six questions selected by the City Council.
That will be followed by one minute each for rebuttals and 15 minutes each for closing statements.
“It’s going to be frighteningly compressed, and that’s going to affect the quality of what we can do, and that’s the way it is,” said Kailin, a retired physician and organizer and former president of Protect the Peninsula’s Future.
Locke said in a recent interview that the goal of his committee is to make the case that fluoridation is an effective public health strategy to fight tooth decay.
He said the science backing fluoridation has changed little in the past decade and that his group has cited 3,000 studies that back its effectiveness.
“This is a high-needs area in terms of rates of [tooth] decay,” Locke said.
“We have some of the poorest access to dental care in the state of Washington.
“We’re also going to make the case of the extraordinary safety record of it.”
Locke said the pro-fluoridation group, Keep Port Angeles Healthy, is not raising money but recently received a $1,000 unsolicited donation — he did not know the name of the donor — and is receiving support from the Washington Dental Service Foundation, which contributed $343,000 to purchase and install fluoridation equipment in 2006.
“Mostly volunteer efforts is what we depend on,” Locke said.
Craig Fulton, public works and utilities director, on Tuesday estimated that the city spends $16,500 annually to buy fluorosilicic acid to add to the city’s water supply.
Labor is about $1,700 a year, while system maintenance and repair is $1,700 a year, making the total estimated annual cost $19,900.
On Nov. 6, approximately 10,000 advisory surveys will be mailed to city water customers at businesses and residences, including 1,500 Clallam County Public Utility District customers who live east of the city limits but who use city water.
The surveys, which will include postage-paid return envelopes and will not be included with customers’ regular utility bills, are due at City Hall or must be postmarked by Nov. 27.
City Manager Dan McKeen said Tuesday that up to 1,000 city water users will not receive surveys.
Those excluded live in apartment buildings with single water connections for which city water bills are received by building owners, not tenants.
“Tenants will not receive an advisory [survey],” McKeen said.
McKeen said those who do not receive an advisory survey can email their opinions to the City Council at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop off a letter at City Hall.
SIX QUESTIONS WILL be addressed at Thursday’s forum. They are:? ? What studies and reviews demonstrate the safety of community water fluoridation?
? ? What studies and reviews show that community water fluoridation works to prevent tooth decay?
? ? Who are the organizations that either support or object to water fluoridation?
? ? If a person wants to ingest fluoride, what other sources of fluoride are available?
? ? Please provide one prospective, randomized controlled trial of fluoridation’s efficacy. What modern, peer-reviewed published study, controlled for socioeconomic, racial and age factors, reports statistical significance supportive of claims of a 30 percent reduction in tooth decay?
? ? What accounts for the fact that the incidence of tooth decay in [nonfluoridated] developed countries, like [those in] Western Europe, has decreased at the same rate as in fluoridated cities in the United States?