If there’s a political litmus test in Fircrest these days, fluoride is probably it, even though it shouldn’t be.
The city has added trace amounts of fluoride to the water system since 1957. The federal Centers for Disease Control calls municipal fluoridation one of the top 10 public health initiatives of the 20th Century (along with vaccinations, family planning, motor vehicle safety, etc). Every major medical association supports it.
And yet, last year several chiropractors led a small but vocal group of about a dozen Fircrest citizens (plus quite a few outsiders) to demand that the City Council remove it. They accused the city of poisoning the public, even though the city has been adding it to the water for 58 years and there’s absolutely no evidence of harm. They also claimed linkages to a long list of ailments and conditions, including lower IQ and autism – all of which are debunked by peer-reviewed science.
After months of listening to these claims, the City Council voted 5-2 on August 12, 2014, to continue fluoridating the water. I was on the prevailing side (more on that below). Click here to see what Councilmembers said during the debate.
Two of the five members who voted to maintain fluoridation – Mayor David Viafore and Councilmember David Goodsell – are leaving the Council at the end of this year. The good news is the candidates running unopposed for their positions, Blake Surina and Brett Wittner, support fluoridation. (Blake testified in favor of it during public comments at last year’s meeting, and I called Brett and asked about his position on the issue.)
My opponent, Heather Heiderich, is on record opposing fluoridation. As you can see here, she posted her frustration with the City Council’s decision on the “Fluoride Action Network’s” Facebook page. This is not a mainstream view.
Volumes have been written about this topic. I talked with experts during last year’s debate. I’ve read a lot about fluoridation, as well as the phenomenon of people who ignore science when it doesn’t back up their personal beliefs. (I highly recommend a book called “The Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine Autism Controversy,” by MIT professor Seth Mnookin, who includes a chapter on the origins of the fluoride scare campaign.)
In addition to all the scientific evidence, consider this: All of the doctors at UP Pediatrics in Fircrest – who have treated children (including my two) in our area for decades – agree that fluoridation is safe, healthy and good for our community. Drs. Jeffrey Camm and Stephen Beck at Fircrest Children’s Dentistry also strongly agree.
In other words, the highly educated and experienced doctors and dentists who have cared for countless Fircrest children over the years say we’re doing the right thing.
Here are excerpts from an op-ed written by Dr. Camm and Dr. Terry Torgenrud, a retired pediatrician who cared for Fircrest children for decades:
“Following the anti-fluoride activists’ lead would be a mistake. The case for community water fluoridation is compelling.
“…nearly every respected professional health organization in the world – including the American Dental Association, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization – strongly supports community water fluoridation. These organizations support community water fluoridation because it has been proven to improve oral health for everyone.”
“The decision to fluoridate Fircrest’s water supply is based on solid science that has been validated by six decades of practical application.”
If you’re among the very small number of people who believe the government is poisoning our drinking water, then no doctor, dentist, scientist or neighbor will change your mind. I wrote this post for the majority of people in our community who take for granted that a significant advancement in public health is here to stay. The choice is clear on Nov. 3.
Oct. 17 update: Heather posted a reply claiming I took her anti-fluoride statement out of context. But then I found even stronger comments she made on the subject. Click here to see a comparison of what she said this week versus last year.
If elected to the City Council, would she always threaten to move out of the city if she doesn’t get her way?