Fluoride issue to get public hearing June 24

Sean C. Morgan

The Sweet Home City Council will hold a public hearing on June 24 about whether to continue fluoridating city water after hearing from several residents on the issue Tuesday, May 27.

Councilors said they wanted to have more public input before deciding what to do with a request by resident Marvin Hult that the city stop fluoridating city water.

“It’s poison,” Jim Oviatt told the council on Tuesday. “It’s pure poison.”

And if Sweet Home residents voted on it, they would vote to stop fluoridating, he said.

“The rumor is it helps your teeth,” said John Earl. “The few seconds that water touches your teeth as it goes down to your stomach is nothing compared to the hours it remains in your intestines, which is where most problems develop.”

Trevor Burchard encouraged the council to take the issue to an open forum and explore more research, especially about the hazards of fluoride.

Dentist Henry Wolthuis said the council should avoid a hasty decision and take a scientific approach.

“It is one of the most important health care benefits available to our community and should not be discontinued for lack of scientific and objective information,” Wolthuis said. “It is one of the most cost effective public health benefits, reportedly costing about 72 cents per person per year, in turn saving tens of thousands of dollars in dental fillings, root canals, tooth loss, etc.”

He told the council that the subject has been well-researched, and the council will need to do its homework before deciding. He said the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention is a responsible resource of information, along with the American Dental Association.

Joy Stokes said there are several kinds of fluoride, and that calcium fluoride is the one that provides the benefits.

City water doesn’t always have the right kind of fluoride, and that’s where the health risks are, she said.

The city has been fluoridating its water for at least 40 years, said City Manager Craig Martin.

It costs about $6,000 per year, said Councilor Craig Fentiman.

“It’s a somewhat widely debated topic,” Martin said. Some cities have removed it. Others have kept it. Most recently in Oregon, the Philomath City Council removed fluoride, but six months later voters said to put it back into the city’s water.

“What I would like to see is more time for public comment,” said Councilor Scott McKee Jr. “My personal belief is that it is a form of forced medication. I find it appalling.”

It’s justified because it is aimed at poor and low-income residents who cannot afford proper dental care, he said. For that reason, it is forced on them.

“I find that appalling, sickening actually,” McKee said. “Me personally, I would love to never see it in our water again.”

“We’ll disagree on this,” said Councilor Dave Trask. “And who do you believe? I don’t see anything wrong with it. It’s not forced. They don’t have to drink the water.”

This is one of those issues where both sides have good evidence, Fentiman said, suggesting that an election may be the best way to decide.

“This is one of those issues where you can believe what you want to believe,” Fentiman said.

Councilor Bruce Hobbs said fluoride has its up sides and down sides.

Councilors Greg Mahler and Marybeth Angulo agreed that a public hearing would be a good idea.

The public hearing will be held during the council’s regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. on June 23.

For more information, call the city manager’s office at (541) 367-8969.

In other business, the council unanimously approved a new ordinance that allows the city to take action against chronic nuisance properties associated with repeated criminal acts. Action against those properties can include closure for use.

Present at the meeting were Mayor Jim Gourley and councilors Angulo, Mahler, Fentiman, McKee, Trask and Hobbs.

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