Woodland council ends fluoridation

It will be removed from water supply immediately

By Tyler Graf, Columbian county government reporter

Published:

 

Woodland will remove fluoride from its water supply following a Monday city council decision.

Councilors voted 6-1 to remove the additive from its water supply immediately. Councilman Al Swindell was the lone vote of dissent on the resolution.

Councilman Benjamin Fredricks, who voted to remove fluoride from the water supply, said it boiled down to a decision about personal choice.

"Everyone has the opportunity to use (fluoride) topically as a toothpaste if they wish," he said. "Every doctor I go to knows they can't force a patient to take a medicine without their informed consent."

Swindell, who voted against the resolution, said not fluoridating the water supply could harm children who don't have access to dental care. "I didn't see any scientific proof fluoride would harm anybody with the doses we were putting in the water," he said.

Woodland has fluoridated its water supply for nearly two decades, except for a brief period in the 1990s, when the city's equipment broke.

Monday's vote not to fluoridate the water supply will come with marginal savings. Fluoridation costs the city between $3,000 and $5,000 a year. Public health officials, however, say fluoridated water ends up saving money in the long run because it acts as preventative health care.

The Woodland City Council started looking into taking fluoride out of the water last spring, when resident Norah Grooms filed an official complaint about it. She sent articles and documents to city administrators critical of fluoridation.

Many of the same anti-fluoride sources were cited last year during a successful voter referendum in Portland, which prevented the city from adding fluoride to its water supply. Organizations such as the American Dental Association and the Centers for Disease Control refuted the claims, saying that under acceptable levels, fluoride is safe.

In April, Woodland surveyed residents to gauge their thoughts on fluoridated water. About 56 percent of those who responded to the city's unscientific survey said they opposed fluoridating the water supply.

Swindell said it would be prudent to ask citizens to vote on the matter.

Fredricks, meanwhile, said he believed it was city council's purview to make difficult decisions. He said council did its own research on the merits of fluoride and didn't rely on what anti-fluoride activists passed along.

The city has never voted on whether fluoride should be in the water supply.