White Salmon council kills fluoridation plan

By JESSE BURKHARDT
The Enterprise, Washington State
August 30, 2001

Without even taking a vote, the White Salmon City Council has decided there will be no further consideration of a plan to fluoridate the city water supply.

On the evening of Aug. 15, the council was scheduled to debate whether to approve the concept of increasing the fluoride level in order to improve the dental health of children in the community.

An affirmative vole would have resulted in scheduling of town hall meetings to discuss the plan. The public meetings had tentatively been scheduled for September.

However, when council member Penny White Morris made a motion to look further into the fluoridation proposal, none of the other council members present—Susan Benedict, Francis Gaddis, and Tim Stone —offered the necessary second to the motion. As a result, the motion died.

No further consideration of fluoridation is expected.

The council's failure to even consider the motion caught Mayor Roger Holen by surprise, since at the previous council meeting the members seemed poised to support fluoridation.

"Going into the meeting, my sense was it would be 2-2 and I'd have to break the tie," Holen said. ''It seemed to me we'd go ahead. At the previous meeting, there was all this concern around the people having an opportunity to give input on the issue. It's ironic that what the City Council succeeded in doing is preventing that."

Morris also was left wondering what happened. She pointed out that members of the community deserved the chance to make their wishes known.

"I didn't want to do this if the community doesn't want it," she explained. 'My main concern is, we haven't heard from the the community yet.''

Before the motion died, council member Stone offered his reasons as to why he would not support consideration of fluoridation. "To my knowledge, no one in the United States is forced to take medication,'' Stone said. "Because there are other ways to get fluoride, those people have that option. But if we put it in the water, we're forcing everyone, even if they don't want to for philosophical or religious reasons, to ingest fluoride."

Mayor Holen added that if the council had approved the motion Morris proposed, it would not have meant fluoridation was a done deal. There would have been several stages along the way where the plan could have been dropped.

"If we had voted to move forward in principle, it would have been the beginning of a journey," Holen said. "The council could even opt not to fund the project in the budget. But if the council is not interested, I don't want to waste staff time going down a dead-end road."

Unlike the previous council meeting, in which seven supporters of fluoridation spoke to the council, there were only two public speakers at last week's meeting: Doug Barnard, a Lyle resident who works as a chiropractor in White Salmon, and Greg deBruler, one of the leaders of Columbia Riverkeeper, a watchdog group monitoring the health of the Columbia River.

Both blasted plans to add fluoride to the water.

"My background is toxicology," said deBruler. '"The cancer rate in the 1930's was about one in 45. Now it's more like one in four. That is directly related to what's in the air, water, and food. The bottom line, if we don't have it in our water, we don't need it."

DeBruler noted that the best way to apply fluoride is topically, not via drinking.

"Please do not put fluoride in our water," he said. "It does not need to be in there. Think of the combined effects of adding chemicals to the water. There are detrimental effects to human health."

Barnard told the council that fluoride is a poison. He read the warning label on a tube of toothpaste, which warned about ingesting too much of the fluoride toothpaste.

"Fluoridated water would be disastrous," Barnard said. "Fluoride is extremely toxic. No studies have proven you can prevent tooth decay with fluoride. It's a poison. That should tell you something."

Barnard pointed out that fluoride is already in our food. He said drinking a can of Diet Coke every day would provide all the fluoride that was needed.

"Even if it were proven that fluoride prevents cavities, there is no reason to put it in our drinking water,'' Barnard explained. "It's in our food."

Barnard also warned that the fluoride would eventually enter the Columbia River.

"Another issue is it would expose salmon to fluoride. Too much fluoride can make them sterile," he explained.

Holen said the arguments offered against fluoridation were weak.

"The naysayers have yet to provide any sources that have any standing," said Holen. "They all have the same litany, and nothing to back it up."

Holen added that the American Medical Association, the American Dental Association. the Klickitat County Health Department, the National Health Service, and the Washington Health Department all are on record as endorsing the health benefits of fluoridation.

"How is it these two geniuses have all this information none of the national health agencies have?" Holen questioned. "What I'm upset about is, the process was subverted. Everybody wimped out to the vocal few looking for bogeymen under the bed."