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In the end, there wasn’t much left to debate. The voters, after all, had spoken decisively.

With little discussion, the Kalama City Council voted 5-0 Wednesday night to retain the city’s use of cavity-fighting fluoride in the city’s drinking water. Mayor Pete Poulsen, who had started the whole debate over fluoridation, was absent due to illness.

The council previously had pledged to abide by a Nov. 4 advisory vote, in which 68 percent of the ballots cast favored retaining fluoride. A survey of water customers outside the city limits was equally lopsided in favoring fluoride use.

The city has added fluoride to its water for about 50 years. Nevertheless, Poulsen, a former city water manager, brought the issue to the council because of his own unease with what he saw as a toxic substance being added to the city’s water supply.

Advocates said fluoride is a proven, safe way to fight tooth decay and cited health authorities in claiming it was one of the biggest in advances in public health in the 20th century. Opponents argue that fluoride can cause thyroid, kidney and neurological problems and that populations without fluoridated water have seen a similar decline in cavities.

Members of the advocacy group Fluoride Free Kalama have promised to continue to seek its removal.

The Daily News, Longview, Wash.

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