State group funding pro-fluoride ads after Snowmass decision
A state association for dental practitioners has joined the water fluoridation battle in Snowmass Village by helping to fund pro-fluoride ads in a local newspaper.
“We just want to make sure the dentists, the groups talking about health, have the resources they need,” said Molly Pereira, associate executive director for the Colorado Dental Association.
Pereira said the 3,200-member association, which represents about 80 percent of the state’s dentists, opted to get involved in the fluoridation issue because, “In Snowmass, it’s become political.”
In July, the Snowmass Water & Sanitation District voted 3-1 to remove fluoride from its water supply, a decision that was discussed in successive meetings after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in April lowered its recommended fluoride level to 0.7 milligrams per liter (mg/L) from its prior range of 0.7 mg to 1.2 mg/L.
Since the district removed fluoride from the water supply, the issue has proven divisive, with the Snowmass Village Town Council, as well as some community members, asking for a reconsideration.
In late August, the district decided to poll its 3,400 customers through a mail-in survey that’s being conducted by a Grand Junction-based auditing firm. That’s generated a flurry of letters to the editor and opinion pieces. Then last week, paid advertisements from both sides started running in The Aspen Times.
According to Pereira, the CDA approved an expenditure of about $800 per week for five weeks after Dr. Karina Redko, a Snowmass Village dentist, originally agreed to fund the ads on her own.
Redko said, “a few dentists and the CDA offered to help with the expenses after my initial commitment.”
Cris Cuda Dawson, who advocated the removal of fluoride in the local water supply, said she and another local resident, Staci Stokes, are paying for anti-fluoride ads out of their own pockets.
Dawson, whose family owns a water treatment business in Aspen, is as passionate about what she perceives are the health hazards associated with fluoride as are the pro-forces who maintain its benefits far outweigh any potential detriments.
Cuda Dawson said the pro-fluoride forces “just don’t get it. We look at fluoride as acid. It’s a toxic waste product. We were also told fillings are good for us, cigarettes are good for us. Let’s just research this and respect the guys who made the decision.”
Her husband, David Dawson, a member of the water and sanitation board, is one of those decision-makers who voted with the majority in July for removal.
She said the anti-fluoride ads, which will run for three more weeks and cost about $65 per placement, refer people to the FluorideAlert.org web site.
“It’s really informative,” Cuda Dawson added.
Redko disagrees and takes issue with a particular statement included within the opponents’ “No Fluoridation” ad.
It reads: “No fluoridation. 98 percent of Europe banned water fluoridation. Why? Because it’s not safe.”
The dentist said this is more a function of obsolete European water systems that can’t easily accept the additive rather than a conscious effort toward fluoride removal.
Pereira of the dental association said they have a scientific basis, including a study from the Centers for Disease Control, to back up their opinion.
“If those against fluoride are running ads, it’s important to know that there is another side to that argument. We want to make sure people are properly informed before they answer that survey,” Pereira said.
She added this is the first time in recent years the organization has ponied up money for the purpose of buying and placing advertisements.
“This is a very different issue. I’ve never seen a survey go out after a decision was made,” Pereira said. ”We are very curious to see how they make sure all the post cards (by respondents) are valid.”
Snowmass Water & Sanitation District Manager Kit Hamby suggested that the district will be running ads that are neutral in tone, serving only to remind respondents of an approaching Oct. 2 deadline for surveys to be returned.