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Regional News

Supporters And Opponents Of Spokane Water Fluoridation Make Their Cases

Screenshot from City Cable 5

Fluoride advocates and opponents made their cases to Spokane City Council members and the public during a virtual forum Thursday evening.

The event was held about four days before the council is expected to consider an emergency ordinance that would allow the city to inject fluoride into its drinking water. The forum gave councilmembers such as Karen Stratton a chance to ask questions. For example, does fluoride change the taste of water. The answer from Stephen Baker from the Washington Department of Health was no.

“My second question is, I’ve heard a lot of people talk about effects on skin and taking a shower in water that is fluoridated. Are there any studies, is there any data that additional fluoride affects skin health?” Stratton asked.

Again, Baker’s answer was no.

Baker and his colleague shared the history of fluoridation in the U.S., going back to 1945. It was introduced into the water of a Washington city for the first time in 1950. Fifty fluoridated water systems serve about three million people.

Opponents say fluoride is an unwanted substance foisted onto people who have no choice but to ingest it.

Supporters say they may make unfluoridated water available to people who want it. But Jeff Irish from Safe Water Spokane says that puts a burden on poor people.

“Can you imagine thousands of people having to trek miles away to have to line up as a community spigot every day just to get clean water, not to mention all the disabled, elderly and those without transportation who couldn’t even get there. We’re not living in a third-world country. We’re not second-class citizens. This is one of the worst ideas we’ve ever seen," Irish said.

Opponents say declaring the proposed fluoride ordinance as an emergency is wrong. Mayor Nadine Woodward says she’s concerned about the short time frame of the public debate about fluoridation and says she would support putting the proposal to a public vote.


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