The water in the city of Fircrest will continue to be fluoridated. The City Council opted for the status quo Tuesday by voting down an ordinance that would have stopped the 57-year practice.
Despite the council voting 5-2 to continue water fluoridation, anti-fluoride activists said they aren’t done trying to get the chemical additive removed from the city’s water supply.
Council members Matthew Jolibois and Jason Medley voted to stop fluoridation.
Medley prefaced his vote by saying the council was overreaching into people’s lives and quipped that maybe the council should also start regulating the amount of sugar people consume.
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Jolibois questioned the effects of fluoride on parts of the body other than teeth enamel.
“My choice tonight is the most optimum thing for the human body as a whole,” Jolibois said.
The community group Fircrest Citizens for Safe Water have petitioned the council since early spring to remove fluoride from the city’s water.
John Mishko and David Stemp, two local chiropractors leading the anti-fluoride group, said Tuesday’s vote hasn’t deterred them.
“It’s going to be a question of us educating people,” Mishko said. “Once people get the facts it’s a no-brainer.”
Because Fircrest doesn’t allow referendums, Mishko said they can’t collect signatures to get the issue on the ballot for Fircrest voters to decide.
“The best we can do is vote out the people who we don’t feel are looking out for our children,” he said of those who support water fluoridation.
Mishko is also looking at legal options and has consulted an attorney, but wouldn’t elaborate on legal options Tuesday night.
The anti-fluoride crowd in Fircrest includes residents and non-residents, doctors and dentists.
The group argues fluoride is a developmental neurotoxicant that could be a contributing factor in autism and learning disabilities. Members cite studies showing fluoride can cause dental fluorosis, a staining and weakening of teeth enamel, and has negative effects on kidneys and the thyroid. They also argue the fluoride the city puts in its water is from China and is not the pharmaceutical grade used by dentists.
Fluoride proponents, including residents, doctors, dentists and representatives from the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, have argued the public health benefits of fluoridated water.
They cite studies that show the health benefits including reducing tooth decay and other oral health problems that come from a lack of nutrition and proper oral hygiene. They also note the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes water fluoridation as one of 10 great public health achievements in the 20th century. Washington state health officials also support the practice.
Dr. Jeffrey Camm, a pediatric dentist in Fircrest, told the council Tuesday that in his 40 years of practice he’s “seen nothing to convince me” that fluoridated water is harmful to public health.
The city delivers water to more than 6,000 customers. Part of the city is serviced by the city of Tacoma’s water division, which also adds fluoride. Fircrest budgeted $4,200 to buy fluoride in 2014; it plans to make $50,000 worth of improvements to its fluoride monitoring equipment in 2015.
The city of Gig Harbor, the Lakewood Water District and Parkland Light & Water don’t add fluoride to water. The cities of Puyallup and Bonney Lake have fluoride but the levels fall short of the federally recommended range, according to the state Department of Health.