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Public meeting scheduled Friday on Sonoma County dental health initiatives, fluoride


The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday could take the next step in a long-proposed plan to add fluoride to most of the county’s drinking water.

The move is intended to improve dental health and is a common practice across the country, recommended by leading national and international health agencies. But it has sparked emotional protests from a wide range of opponents concerned about health implications and other issues.

faucetThe county has been studying the proposal for a year. A feasibility report examining health and legal issues is due out Thursday and will be the subject of a public meeting Friday, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at a county health office at 3313 Chanate Road in Santa Rosa.

Dr. Lynn Silver Chalfin, the county’s health officer, declined on Tuesday to discuss the report’s findings.

Rita Scardaci, the county’s health services director, said on Wednesday that the report does not make any “definitive recommendation” on the introduction of fluoride.

But county health officials continue to back that move, pointing to what they’ve called an oral health “crisis” among Sonoma County children, especially those from low-income families.

The Board of Supervisors last February backed study of water fluoridation as a key way to address the problem.

On Tuesday the board is set to consider approving the next step: a six-month, $103,000 study of the engineering changes necessary to fluoridate local drinking water.

The 2:10 p.m. hearing is likely to draw a large crowd, and pit supportive health officials against skeptics and activists who oppose the practice.

Water fluoridation has been backed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Surgeon General, the World Health Organization and the American Dental Association, which called it “the single most effective public health measure to prevent dental decay.”

Almost three-quarters of the nation’s population served by public water systems — or about 196 million people — are receiving fluoridated water.

State law requires the practice for all public water suppliers in California with more than 10,000 connections. The unfunded 18-year-old statute has not been widely enforced.

Critics, including non-traditional health advocates, property rights activists and some environmentalists, have urged the county to reject water fluoridation. They’ve voiced concerns about government-imposed medication and health impacts on humans and on wildlife exposed to fluoridated wastewater.

Currently in Sonoma County, the only fluoridated water is delivered to residents of Healdsburg and the adjacent Fitch Mountain area.

The proposal would add fluoride to water used by nearly three quarters of the county, including 350,000 residents served by the Sonoma County Water Agency in Windsor, Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Cotati, Petaluma, Sonoma and the Valley of the Moon.

The Sonoma County Water Agency also serves about 250,000 residents in Marin County. Of those customers, 185,000 people in south and central Marin — residents from Marinwood to Sausalito — already get fluoridated water. The roughly 65,000 residents who don’t currently get fluoride — but who would under any Water Agency introduction — live in western and northern Marin County, including Novato.

Presentations at the Friday meeting will be given by Scardaci, Silver Chalfin, and Oscar Chavez, executive director of the Community Action Partnership, the anti-poverty nonprofit group.

Public comment is scheduled for 4:05 p.m.

Public comment will also be taken at the Tuesday Board of Supervisors’ meeting.

One Response to “Public meeting scheduled Friday on Sonoma County dental health initiatives, fluoride”

  1. Trevor Moore says:

    To whom it may concerm.
    I type this to you now as a higly concerned citizen of 5 years of sonoma county. I have grown to love it here as many other “transplants” like myself have. And have no doubt taken an interest in local affairs. I’m sure by now you have heard the many health concerns over the proposed flouridation of Sonoma county’s water supply. So i have one side of the argument for fluoridation telling me its harmless and even further a benefit to the local populace’s dental health.Then the other side is against fluoridation telling me of the many extremely negative effects. And that the grade of fluoride they wish to use, is an industrial waste grade??? If that is true I am flabbergasted that the council could even remotely CONSIDER putting it in our water system.

    But NO matter on who’s right and whose wrong. I can take a completely unbiased point of view and still give ample reasoning as to why we should not fluoridate the water. This issue doesnt seem to be going on any ballot measure. At least I haven’t heard of it doing so. I also find that quite upsetting. I find it very unfair that people don’t have the God-given democratic right to opt-out of flouridation. To give people this right, i propose that if the council finds fluoridation absolutely necessary to approve that it should be done in public schools for children, and local clinics for adults. I personally want the right to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to fluoridation. The program administering fluoride to children in schools (directly upon their teeth thereby increasing its effectiveness) could be funded with the money saved NOT retrofitting our water systems to accommodate the fluoridation. As far as adults are concerned, I believe a county subsidized program of
    free fluoride treatment at local clinics (again applied directly to the teeth) could be easily organized. All the while giving people the option rather than the obligation to take part in the fluoride treatment.

    Thank you so much for your time. I do hope you would take these points into deep consideration. I find it unsettling and frankly quite saddening that the U.S. finds itself as the only first world nation that doesn’t fully consider the proven negative effects that fluoridation can cause. There are much safer ways to help our children’s teeth. I and many other in this county have expressed grave concerns for this issue and I sincerely hope that these concerns are being addressed. Your future’s as ‘trusted’ supervisors may depend upon it. I look forward to hearing a response and am certain to be at the Board’s meeting this Tuesday. Thanks again and have a great day! -trevor moore

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