Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Dunedin commissioners vote 3-2 to keep fluoride in the water

DUNEDIN — The City Commission voted Tuesday to keep fluoride in the public water supply, siding with widespread scientific consensus and rejecting critics who have protested the mineral as illegal toxic waste.

Commissioners voted 3-2 in support of the public health additive, splitting with Pinellas County commissioners who last month voted to end fluoridation for 700,000 residents after a clanging of vocal dissent.

Though Dunedin's vote will affect a much smaller contingency — the 30,000 residents on city taps — it lends a larger victory to the dentists and health professionals who have spoken for decades in fluoride's defense.

"In the name of science and public health, my arguments are on the side of safety," said Vice Mayor Ron Barnette. "We've heard a lot of rhetoric. And this rhetoric is not based on science."

Commissioners didn't get there without a fight. Speaking for two hours, two dozen residents derided fluoride as a poison that could lead to cancer and mental retardation. One Tarpon Springs resident who had earlier warned of a lawsuit, Chris Hrabovsky, said loudly as he left City Hall, "I'll see you in court."

In their dissenting votes, Mayor Dave Eggers and commissioner Julie Ward Bujalski said residents should be able to choose whether they want fluoride in their tap water, a response to opponents' arguments that public fluoridation was government-forced "mass medicating."

"Everything in my body wants to say … I want the choice," Bujalski said. "I want to be able to choose what I do and what I drink."

Nine supporters, including practicing and retired dentists and leaders of a low-income community dental outreach, vouched for fluoride as a safe and effective tool to prevent cavities and tooth decay.

"There is no science that opposes this," said Ed Hopwood, a dentist and associate professor of dentistry at the University of Florida. "This is nothing to be scared of."

But they were largely outnumbered by opponents who called fluoride a secretive poison that residents were powerless to resist. Resident Felicity Coddington, who blamed fluoride for spots on her teeth, said the water smelled like rat poison. She received a round of applause.

When one supporter said fluoride was backed by the scientific community, someone in the crowd said loudly: "So was bloodletting."

Amid this summer's budget talks, city officials said cutting fluoride would save about $16,000 a year and cancel the $50,000 replacement of an aging fluoride tank. A public workshop in September drew crowds of fluoride detractors and one supporter, a dentist, who was booed.

Dunedin in 1992 followed the town of Belleair to become the second Pinellas municipality to fluoridate its water, rejecting opponents who said fluoride contributed to wrinkles and AIDS.

St. Petersburg, Gulfport and Belleair continue to fluoridate their water supplies. Pinellas County's reversal takes effect at the end of the year.

Dunedin has long been a pioneer for public water. Drawing from an expansive well field, Dunedin relies solely on water pumped from within city limits. In 1999, the prime minister of Singapore and a contingent of U.S. Secret Service agents visited Dunedin's reverse-osmosis water plant, one of the earliest in the world.

Nearly three-quarters of Americans using public utilities drink from fluoridated water supplies.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls water fluoridation one of the last century's greatest public-health successes, and the American Dental Association estimates every public dollar spent on fluoride equals $38 in saved dental-treatment costs.

Public health experts say the typical level of fluoride provided in public water — less than a milligram per liter — is far below the excessive intake that can lead to health problems.

But the crush of scientific consensus has not kept critics from slamming it as government drugging or a high-level dental-industry conspiracy. Some falsely claim its use in water began with the Nazis during World War II.

Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 445-4170 or dharwell@tampabay.com.

Dunedin commissioners vote 3-2 to keep fluoride in the water 11/29/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 11:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally

    Business

    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  2. Kushner to testify before two intelligence committees

    Politics

    WASHINGTON— President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is set to make a second appearance on Capitol Hill — he will speak with the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, one day after he is scheduled to speak with Senate Intelligence Committee investigators behind closed doors.

    White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. [Associated Press]
  3. Rays blow lead in ninth, lose in 10 to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Kevin Cash liked the way Alex Cobb was competing Friday night. He liked the way the hard contact made by the Rangers batters went away after the second or third inning. So as the game headed toward the ninth, there was no doubt in Cash's mind that sending Cobb back to the mound was …

    Rays starter Alex Cobb can hardly believe what just happened as he leaves the game in the ninth after allowing a leadoff double then a tying two-run homer to the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo.
  4. Exhumation of Dalí's remains finds his mustache still intact

    World

    FIGUERES, Spain — Forensic experts in Spain have removed hair, nails and two long bones from Salvador Dalí's embalmed remains to aid a court-ordered paternity test that may enable a woman who says she is the surrealist artist's daughter to claim part of Dalí's vast estate.

    Salvador Dal? died in 1989 leaving vast estate.
  5. Sessions discussed Trump campaign-related matters with Russian ambassador, U.S. intelligence intercepts show

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — Russia's ambassador to Washington told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, current and former U.S. …

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation after meetings with an ambassador were revealed.