Community members, both in favor of and in opposition to the city’s water fluoridation, addressed the Bolivar Board of Aldermen at its Aug. 25 work session.
Rebecca Still, owner of the natural health business Designed 4 Healing, said city government should give the people a choice.
“I’m just appealing to the heart of the issue, of the freedom of choice,” Still said.
“You do have a choice,” Mayor John Best said. “You can buy bottled water.”
Still said she wanted to distinguish between naturally occurring fluoride and hydrofluoric acid, which is used to supplement the amount of fluoride in the city’s water supply to 1 part per million. Hydrofluoric acid is a byproduct of phosphate fertilizer, she said.
The Environmental Protection Agency formed a union because of studies showing long-term effects to the central nervous system due to water fluoridation, Still said. In addition, the American Dental Association advises against using tap water to make infant formula.
“Those who are impoverished cannot afford a water filtration system … or bottled water,” she said.
Filtering water is not enough to remove fluoride from the water, she said. The process of reverse osmosis is required and is costly.
Toothpaste is still the best application of fluoride, Still said, and the city would save about $58,000 in the next five years if it discontinued fluoridation.
Administrator Michelle Morris of the Polk County Health Department said fluoridation of the water supply at 1 ppm was the single-most effective public health measure in the prevention of tooth decay.
Morris also cited a study by the American Cancer Society, which found no connection between cancer rates in humans and the fluoridation of water.
Dr. Donald Jump, DDS, said the ADA fully supports the proper fluoridation of the water supply. He recalled when the issue came before voters in the 1970s and fluoridation was defeated, despite recommendations by area dentists and physicians.
“I was devastated,” Jump said. “I realized at that time that people didn’t have much confidence in the dental and medical community of Bolivar.”
City Administrator Ron Mersch said the issue came before the board again in the 1990s and the board voted to fluoridate the water supply.
As part of a normal election, adding the issue to the ballot would not create much in additional cost, Mersch said.
Alderman John Credille and several other aldermen said they received many letters and phone calls from citizens who want the fluoridation to stop.
“Let them vote,” Credille said.
Mersch said he would need to research the restrictions for fourth-class cities to make sure the issue can be voted on by the citizens.
Also present at the meeting were Aldermen Bill Jones, Steve Skopec, Arleen Ferguson, Julie Bond, Darren Crowder and Rob Ross. Alderman Clayton Troyer was absent. Aldermen also discussed the city’s redistricting. See related story on Page 3A.