A virtual community forum will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and will be open for public testimony. Those who want to give comment must sign up online between 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Fluoridation of Spokane’s water supply is a controversial topic that has drawn criticism and support from residents and local leaders alike. The proposal has been shot down three times by voters since the 1960s.
The national debate over fluoride started in the 1940s when Grand Rapids, Michigan, became the first U.S. city to add fluoride to its water supply, according to Kaiser Health. In the decades since, opposition has usually stemmed from studies linking fluoride intake by children with lower IQs and potential toxicity.
Spokane is the largest city in Washington state without fluoridated water, according to a policy brief published by the Spokane Regional Health District. The nearby cities of Cheney and Fairchild Air Force Base add fluoride to their public water supply, as do Boise, Yakima and Tacoma, according to the brief.
The City of Spokane’s drinking water currently has fluoride levels of 0.1 milligrams per liter. A local student health association is asking city council to increase those levels to the federal recommendation of 0.7 mg/L.
In a Facebook post, Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward Nadine Woodward encouraged people to participate in the community forum. She said the city has a “long history with water fluoridation,” adding that voters most recently turned down a proposal in 2000.
“That was a long time ago. But now, the issue is being considered again. Only this time, not at the ballot, but as an Emergency Order by the City Council. An Emergency Order in the midst of our community’s Covid Recovery,” Woodward wrote in her Facebook post.
“How is fluoridating our drinking water related to Covid? It’s not. Providing rental assistance to keep people in their homes, grants to struggling small businesses and childcare support for families who are fortunate to still be working, certainly are,” the post continues. “YOU should decide whether our city’s drinking water is altered! And it should be at the ballot.”