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Fluoride issue to be on Nov. 4 ballot

Published on -8/12/2014, 10:49 AM

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By Tim Horan

The Salina Journal

Salina voters will ultimately decide if fluoride will continue to be added to the city water supply. The Salina City Commission on Monday called for a special election Nov. 4 to vote on a referendum to repeal the ordinance that authorized the water department to add fluoride to the water supply.

City Attorney Greg Bengtson said if voters approve the referendum, the issue of adding fluoride to the water could not be addressed again for 10 years unless there is another referendum, either by the commission or petition.

County Clerk Don Merriman confirmed 988 valid signatures on the petition to place the issue on the Nov. 4 election ballot. Salina Cares collected 2,041 signatures to vote on rescinding the ordinance.

Salina Cares member Lou Tryon, called the fluoride added to Salina's water a "hazardous waste product of China's industries" when she presented that petition to the city commission.

Voters to decide whether to continue adding it to water "There are strong health concerns among very knowledgeable people across the country," Randall Holm told the commissioners Monday "I don't think we should be adding health risks to the water. Considering the fluoride they use, it is my understanding, is not a pharmaceutical fluoride grade fluoride but an industrial grade fluoride, which puts us at even more risk, especially if that fluoride is coming from a foreign country where there is no control over quality."

Fluoride is beneficial

Two Salina doctors spoke out in favor of adding fluoride to the water.

Dr. Allan Reed, orthodontist, called fluoride a good choice.

"I would suggest to the commission to make your decision based on facts and evidence rather than rumors and emotions," he said. "I can tell you it is an indisputable fact when fluoride is incorporated into tooth enamel in the proper amount, the tooth enamel is resistant to decay. It is therefore a health benefit."

"I don't know how you can say an industrial waste is good for you," Tryon said.

Dr. Allison Lesko, a dentist with New Horizon Dental Care, said there have been many years of science supporting fluoride.

Commissioner Randall Hardy asked Lesko what she knew about the fluoride being added to the Salina water supply.

"It's more of a byproduct, much like molasses is a byproduct of sugar," she said. "It's being transported in a good way. I would not be concerned at all about any health contaminants or risks."

Sold a bill of goods?

"So the description that it is some sort of waste in the negative is a mischaracterization? It's just a byproduct," Mayor Aaron Householter said.

Before the meeting, Householter said he was in favor of the practice that has been continuous use in Salina since 1969. Salina's latest consumer confidence report shows that in 2013, the city's water had fluoride levels between 0.54 and 0.64 parts per million.

"The only people being affected are the kids that have no say in the matter," Householter said at the meeting. Speaking of the Salina Cares' argument, he said: "We all know we are being sold a bill of goods.

"You have a stack of PhDs that can reach to the moon for people that support it. You probably don't have enough to go around the block who don't," Householter said.

He called the information being put out by Salina Cares as misinformation.

"It's up to the people now. We'll see," Householter said.

What the CDC says

Householter said the national Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Dental Association support fluoride additives.

The CDC says on its website that water fluoridation is beneficial for reducing and controlling tooth decay and promoting oral health in children and adults. Recent estimates of reductions in tooth decay can be credited to community water fluoridation.

The ADA said on its website new research from the University of Otago's Dunedin Multidisciplinary Study does not support claims that fluoridating water adversely affects children's mental development and adult intelligence.

(c)2014 The Salina Journal

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