After spending seven years in meetings and more than million taxpayer dollars on studies and fluoridation promotion, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors (BOS) dropped water fluoridation from their agenda without a word to the press or the public.

Shortly before the May 19 meeting that was planned to present the recommendations of the Fluoridation Advisory Committee, BOS Chair Susan Gorin phoned a member of the committee and told him simply that the matter had been removed from the agenda.

Asked whether the controversial toxin will be considered in coming months, individual supervisors, two of whom will run for re-election soon, had no comment.

Much new information about fluoridation has been published recently.  In June, studies showed that water fluoridation is associated with greater prevalence of ADHD and hypothyroidism in large populations.

Another study showed that the cost savings long attributed to reduced tooth decay from fluoridation is nonexistent.  Because of fluorosis (damaged teeth affecting almost half of US teens) and damage to water pipes and equipment, neither of which is ever included in cost estimates, fluoridation’s costs may actually exceed its benefits (if indeed it has any benefits).

On April 27, consumer attorney Erin Brockovich, along with other professionals, sent a 24-page open letter to the Institute of Medicine, questioning the continued addition of toxic fluoride to the nation’s water supply.  The letter challenged all suggestions that there is a necessary minimum dose of fluoride for anyone, demonstrated fluoride’s toxicity, showed that its beneficial effects are topical, not systemic, and that it therefore doesn’t need to be swallowed, and showed that water fluoridation disproportionately harms blacks and Latinos.

In June, the prestigious Cochrane Collaboration (  concluded that water fluoridation may not significantly reduce tooth decay. To reach its conclusions, the group used studies funded by the National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR) part of the US Health and Human Serices Department (HSS). Almost simultaneously, the Centers for Disease Control, also part of the HHS, issued a 14-page explanation of why they are recommending the first reduction in 53 years in the amount of fluoride added to drinking water. Their “reviews of the scientific evidence related to fluoride have concluded that community water fluoridation is effective in decreasing dental caries prevalence and severity.”  

Cochrane, after reviewing the very same studies, said “There is very little contemporary evidence, meeting the review’s inclusion criteria, that has evaluated the effectiveness of water fluoridation for the prevention of caries,”  and  “there is insufficient information to determine whether initiation of a water fluoridation programme results in a change in disparities in caries across socioeconomic status (SES) levels.”  In Sonoma County, officials claim that fluoridation will mainly benefit low-income children, but this claim—like so many of the promoters’ claims, is not based on evidence.

Cochrane also stated that disfiguring dental fluorisis could be expected in 12 % of children using water fluoridated at the new, lower level of .7 mg/L.

Here in Sonoma County, the FAC met for two years, under the auspices of the Department of Health Services, and did not read or consider a single article on fluoride’s effects on health.  When Bill Hirzy, Ph.D., a 27-year veteran of the EPA, spoke in Santa Rosa in April, on “Is Fluoridation Dangerous to Our Children?” no one from the Health Department or the BOS came.  Ten years ago, more than 7000 EPA scientists urged that the safe level of fluoride in drinking water be set at zero.

More than 100 local businesses, most in the food and beverage industries, have signed a no-fluoride petition, and fluoride opponents are ready for Round Two if the subject comes up again.

Marlene Lily has been a Sonoma Couny real estate agent since 1987.  She has also worked as a writer and editor.