Manchester water district fields questions on fluoride

The issue of adding fluoride to the local water supply is once again before a local water district.

During Tuesday night’s meeting, the Manchester Water District Board of Commissioners heard public comments for both the anti- and pro- fluoridation camps. No action was taken, but the record will be open for further comment on the issue through September 10.

Former Manchester resident Tyler Giantvalley Eaton began his 10-minute presentation with anecdotal evidence on the effects of fluoridated water, citing that since moving to Bellingham where the water is not fluoridated, when he comes home to visit his mother he feels ill, something he attributes to fluoride sensitivity.

“When I come back to eat my mother’s food, and she’s a great cook I should add, I feel sick,” he said. “I began getting interested and found there is a mountain of facts and propaganda to wade through.”

Eaton, who was flanked by his mother and sister who both live in Manchester, cited numerous arguments against fluoridating water supplies including that elemental fluoride is reactive, the dosage is hard to control and since it can be very hard and costly to remove fluoride from water, the public cannot willingly opt out and therefore adding fluoride violates the medical code of ethics.

Adding fluoride to the water first went to the voters in Manchester in 1969 and was approved. Fluoride began being added to the water supply in June of 1971, said Water District General Manager Dennis O’Connell.

The Manchester Water District’s water supply contains .02 parts per million of naturally occurring fluoride. The element is known to have strengthening properties that can help prevent cavities, although if too much is ingested it can be poisonous.

Sodium fluoride is added to increase the level to 1.0 ppm, the current recommended level by the Washington State Department of Health. Currently, about 65 percent of Washington State’s water systems are fluoridated.

As mandated by state law the water supply must be tested each day and the fluoride levels recorded.

Local dentist Richard Freiboth spoke in support of continued water fluoridation. He cited that the practice is endorsed by the American Dental Association and Centers for Disease Control and likened it to fortifying other foods such as milk with vitamin D, orange juice with vitamin c and salt with iodine.

“When I cut a persons tooth I can feel the difference when they’ve been drinking fluoridated water,” he said.

Previous attempts have been made to disrupt fluoridation, in June of 1992 and March of 1994. In April of 1994, a survey was distributed to ratepayers and the response came back 6 to 1 in favor of continuing fluoridation. A few months ago, O’Connell said, the board had a person express a desire to stop fluoridation.

“The end game is that the board wants to do what the rate payers want,” he said. Currently the Manchester Water District has a little more than 3,300 ratepayers and serves a population of about 10,000 people.

Chair Steve Pedersen asked for the Board to keep the record open for 60 days.

“Obviously there is a lot of information on both sides,” he said. “I want a written reason on why we should overturn the voters.”

Written information may be sent to Dennis O’Connell at the Manchester Water District, 2081 Spring Ave. E, Port Orchard, WA 98366; (360) 871-0500.

This item was submitted by Kitsap Sun reporter Brittany Patterson and filed by blog administrator Chris Henry.

5 thoughts on “Manchester water district fields questions on fluoride

  1. I didn’t actually have an opinion on this, but it seemed odd to me that – after so many years – scientific consensus had not formed on the safety and efficacy of fluoride in drinking water. As it happens, consensus does exist and that consensus says that there is no danger. Having said that, I see no public interest in ensuring that my teeth are healthy and if a significant number of people don’t want this added to their water, I don’t see what business the majority has forcing it on them. If this came to a vote today, I’d probably vote to stop it.

  2. Dentists prescribe fluoride toothpaste. Let people who want it, buy it.

    I agree the majority (of us) should not be deciding that fluoride should be added to our water. If there were no consequences for having it added I would still not be in favor of adding it. This is something that people can get for themselves if they feel the need it. I am not sure that even leaving a naturally occurring trace should be allowed. After all, allot of other impurities are already required by law to be removed by the water purveyor. Remove the fluoride!

  3. I very much appreciate that Todd has done the research on the scientific consensus on fluoridation – that it is safe – just ask the Centers for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics. Where I differ is that there are some things that we do because it is for the public good. Like vaccinations, laws about seat belts, and in this case fluoridation. There is no other way to get the right amount of fluoride to everyone – I don’t want to take tablets or buy fluoridated water to keep my teeth healthy. The harm caused by not having fluoridated water is great. Slate just talked about Fluoride being one of the top reasons we are not dead yet –

  4. The cost savings to the public of having fluoridated water that prevents caries and a series of other significant health problems associated with dental health is unfathomable. The cost per customer in a public water supply to fluoridate is around $.50 per person in large systems, and about $3.00 per person in very small water supply systems. Several studies have been cited that indicate for every $1.00 spent in community fluoridatio, $38.00 in dental treatment costs is saved.

    The cost to fluoridate a community water supply for a persons’ lifetime, is less than the cost of one filling. Fluoridation is the only public health prevention measure that saves measurably more than it costs. The CDC says it is one of the top ten most significant public health prevention practices ever accomplished.

    I believe in facts, and I believe the facts are often under-represented in the anti-fluoridation efforts, which cite junk science and opinions, not facts.

    Health fairness and equitable social justice practices demand that we fluoridate on a community level. This allows every economic class to receive significant health improvements as well as psychological benefits and cost effective prevention measures. This conserves public health dollars, that can be re-directed to realize more improved community health.

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