Aldermen turn off water fluoridation

Friday, May 10, 2002

A few weeks ago,town officials seemed to be leaning toward fluoridating Franklin's drinking water.

That was before a group of local residents mounted a grassroots campaign, one that described fluoride as a toxic and dangerous substance that threatened the public health.

During Monday night's meeting, Franklin aldermen showe that the anti-fluoride message had not fallen on deaf ears when a motion to fluoridate frabklin's water failed for lack of a second.

I'm very pleased with the decision, said Edward Robles, a Franklin resident who argued against fluoridating Franklin's water. "We have good water in Franklin, and there is no reason to pollute it."

If the town had decided to fluoridate franklin's water, Robles said he was prepared to mount a campaign urging residents to buy water-purifying distilling units.

Before Monday night's meeting, Robles had presented town officials withstacks of paper listing reasons not to add Fluoride to Franklin's water. Apparently, Aldermen read them.

"It's a very controversial thing," Alderman Billy Mashburn said before Monday's vote. "My recommendation is to say no."

Mashburn said he researched the topic on the Internet before making his decision. "There was volumes about it - most of it negative," he said.

Alderman Nancy Scott questioned whether that information was reliable.

"Most of the scientific research done over the last 40-plus years has proven it protects children against cavities," she said this week. "I was surprised that they didn't consider the soure of the information. You can find anything on the Internet."

During Monday's meeting, Scott made a motion to approve fluoridating the town's water. The other five Aldermen declined to offer a second.

Some town officials voiced support for fluoridating the town's water after a dentist with the N.C. Oral Health Section, Robert Leddy, approached them two months ago.

Leddy told Aldermen fluoride offers many benefits. Fluoridating the town's water supply would save customers money in dental bills and help prevent cavities in children and adults.

Ultimately, the argument failed to sway most Aldermen.

"I don't think it is in the town's best interest to mandate fluoride," said Alderman Joe Collins. "Personally, I think it would probably be a benefit to the town and its water users. However, there is a significant number of people who really don't want it."

Vice Mayor Jerry Evans said he thinks it dhould be up to parents whether they want to give their children fluoride.

It's more of a parent issue," he said,"I would be the one who wants to give it to them."

After the vote, Scott argued that town elected leaders have a duty to protect the health of local residents.

"I was very disappointed," she said.

Macon County Health Director Ken Ring echoed her comments. He argued that much anti-fluoride information found on the Internet is biased.

"You really have to go to reputable organizations in order to find good facts," he said.

Organizations that support community water fluoridation include the American Dental Association, the Mayo Clinic, and the Center for Disease Control.

But some Aldermen argued that people who want to recewive the benefits of fluoride have other options - such as buying fluoridated toothpaste.

"Every tube of toothpaste says it has fluoride in it," said Alderman Tom Woodlee. People brush their teeth with it and don't have to swallow it."

Mayor Ed Henson, a local dentist, said, "I've never found any dentist not in support of it."