WOODLAND — Fluoride is on its way out of Woodland’s water.
Citing personal freedom and patient rights, the City Council voted 6 to 1 to remove the additive. Woodland now becomes the only Cowlitz County city not to fluoridate. Councilman Al Swindell was the lone vote to continue fluoridation.
None of the roughly 20 people at Monday’s meeting spoke in favor of fluoride. Council members, though, said they’d spent “significant” time studying both sides of the debate. Citizens first raised concerns several months ago and numerous studies have been forwarded to the council.
Even if fluoridation prevents tooth decay — and opponents say it doesn’t — Councilman Ben Fredricks said the city shouldn’t fluoridate citizens’ water without their consent.
Adding fluoride “allows decision makers without medical qualifications to do to the whole community what a doctor is not allowed to do to his or her patients,” he said.
Councilwoman Marilee McCall said she was concerned about the cumulative effect of fluoridation and thanked residents for coming forward with their concern.
The vote left fluoride opponents “super excited” and “ecstatic” they said after the vote. Opponents say fluoride isn’t needed and can cause numerous health problems. Some at Monday’s meeting called it poison.
Ashley Schrang has three children and one on the way and wants to limit their fluoride exposure. After the vote she said she was pleased the council listened to residents’ concerns.
School nurse Debby Shoup — speaking for herself only — questioned medicating residents without consent and said fluoride proponents can easily use toothpaste or additives.
Terry Day said adding it to the water was dangerous and un-American.
“I’m against my government medicating me without my consent. In America that shouldn’t happen,” he said.
Despite concerns like those raised in Woodland, the American Dental Association continues to endorse fluoridation of community water supplies as safe and effective for preventing tooth decay. The association says fears of fluoride are misguided and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention proclaimed community water fluoridation as one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.
City crews will stop adding fluoride to the water today, but it will take a few days before the previously treated water works its way out of the city’s reservoir and water system, said Public Works Director Bart Stepp. Not fluoridating the water will save the city between $3,000 to $5,000.
In Cowlitz and Clark counties the cities of Castle Rock, Kalama, Kelso, Longview, Vancouver, Battle Ground and Camas fluoridate their water. Clark Public Utilities, Washougal and Ridgefield do not.