Inside the Capitol

Thursday, September 06, 2012

9-10 Santa Feans choose sides on fluoridation

91012 fluoridation

SANTA FE – The great fluoridation debate continues in Santa Fe. A city council action to remove fluoride from the city's water has been delayed once by the city attorney who advised that proper notice was not given for the council action.
Now it is being delayed by the sponsor's consideration of a possible compromise which would keep the water fluoridated for three more years while public education programs are conducted to teach people how to eat right so they won't get cavities.
What's the city council's problem with fluoride? Well, we can't be sure. Some worry about it being a foreign substance that could do more harm than good.
But then, fluoride occurs naturally in Santa Fe's water. Is that a foreign substance? Should the fluoride be removed?
None of the council members seem worried about fluoridation being a plot to poison community members. Councilors are not distrustful of government. In fact, they think we need more government.
They want to educate the people to adopt such good eating habits so they will naturally not get cavities. Call it a nanny state, if you will.
One councilor noted that Santa Fe may be way ahead of the curve. He compared it to the early efforts to stop smoking. It took many years for the public to realize just how bad smoking is for the body.
Meanwhile the federal Centers for Disease Control continues to list water fluoridation as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.
The federal Department of Health and Human Services did slightly lower the recommended amount of water fluoridation recently, which prompted the move in Santa Fe.
The recommended decrease was from 0.8 parts per million to 0.7 ppm. Santa Fe's naturally occurring fluoride is 0.2 to 0.4 ppm.
The council decided that was close enough for government work and originally voted 6-1 to discontinue fluoridation.
It was noted that nearly all of the extra fluoride added is wasted on watering lawns, washing dishes and clothes and flushing toilets.
To prove it wasn't a money-saving move, councilors originally voted to donate the $32,000 budgetary savings to a local children's clinic.
It turns out that fluoridation does save money on the cost of dental care funded by the government and insurance companies.
Usually it is groups on the far right that oppose governmental actions such as the fluoridation of water. But Santa Fe elected officials are on the opposite end of the political spectrum.
Santa Fe's minimum wage is the highest in the nation. Our city council was proud of beating San Francisco, California by a nickel.
That's the sort of thing one can expect of the City Different. So the fluoridation thing is blowing people's minds. It doesn't make sense.
Despite many articles in the local press, the Capital City's rather large scientific community apparently has not awakened to the willingness of the city council to stop adding fluoride to their water.
But sooner or later it will happen and scientists will start showing up at council meetings protesting junk science that is warping their thinking.
LATE BREAKING NEWS: Last night the Santa Fe City Council lurched in still another direction. Four of its eight members want a public vote during the 2014 city election on whether to fluoridate the city's water.
If that passes, and I'm guessing it will, Santa Feans will have the better part of two years to fuss about whether fluoride is good for our teeth or if it will kill us.
The two camps already are lining up. The anti-fluoridationists contend that any intelligent person can go on the Internet and get all kinds of good information about how bad fluoride is for our teeth.
Leading the other side will be led by dentists who agree the Internet does have a tremendous amount of anti-fluoride information but it is all pseudoscience, not evidence-based science.
It will be a wild ride.


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