TV commercials likening fluoride to adding vitamin D to milk or iodine to salt have been running on local channels for more than a week.
It’s a message that would raise few eyebrows in other cities where the use of flouride has long been accepted.
But voters here have twice rejected the addition of flouride to our drinking water and their legislators turned back a bill that would have mandated it in 2009.
“You know I’ve always hoped it was long since settled,” says fluoridation opponent Laurie Yarborough, “but I guess I’m more surprised that it’s coming up again because of everything else that’s going in regards to health in our world.”
Yarborough, who started looking into the issue when her dentist explained the white spots on her son’s teeth were caused by fluoride eventually emerged as a committee activist and testified against a flouride bill before the legislature. She can quote from a stack of studies and arguments to support her position.
On the other side, the Northern Nevada Dental Association can do the same.
Both sides feel passionately about their positions. The one thing they have in common at the moment is surprise that the issue is surfacing again at this moment.
The area’s water supplier, the Truckee Meadows Water Authority was also in the dark.
As a matter of policy, however, TMWA takes no stand on the issue of fluoridation, stating simply they will continue to follow the law. They have said it would cost $5 million dollars to begin fluoridation and $1.5 million each year to continue. That would, they say add from 40 to 75 cents to an average household monthly bill.
The commercials and the billboards that accompany them are being paid for by the state Division of Public and Behavioral Health.
Officials there were unavailable Monday to explain their aims.
If these messages are the first volley in a new battle to put flouride on the ballot, no one on either side or at the Secretary of State’s office seems to know it.
In the absence of such an aim, one is left asking why here, why now?