City government

WAC is back to debate water fluoridation

By From page A1 | April 21, 2013


What: Water Advisory Committee hearing on water fluoridation

When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: Community Chambers, Davis City Hall, 23 Russell Blvd.

Watch it: Live on Comcast Channel 16 and AT&T U-Verse Channel 99, and at www.cityofdavis.org/media

The work of the Water Advisory Committee isn’t finished just yet.

After a yearlong debate on the merits of the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency surface water project, the committee will again be asked to return to the roundtable to talk about whether the city of Davis should fluoridate its drinking water.

The group will hear arguments, starting this week, from both proponents and opponents of fluoridation over the next two months before making a recommendation to the City Council, which has the ultimate decision, in June.

On Thursday, the WAC first will hear the pro-fluoridation arguments.

The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Chambers at City Hall, 23 Russell Blvd. It also will be broadcast live on Comcast Channel 16 and AT&T U-Verse Channel 99 and streamed live on the city’s website at www.cityofdavis.org/media.

Davis has not fluoridated its water in the past largely due to the prohibitive cost of implementing it, according to Dianna Jensen, civil principal engineer for the city. Many dentists believe fluoride reduces the occurrence of cavities.

The process likely would require the city to fix both its surface water and well water supplies with the chemical.

Additionally, the Woodland-Davis surface water project has been designed to allow both Davis and Woodland to elect to fluoridate their water individually. Jensen says the savings achieved by combining resources to fluoridate the water would be nominal.

Jensen said last week she will not have estimates as to how much it would cost Davis to add fluoride to its water supply until June.

Aside from the large cost, however, some in the community believe there are many other drawbacks that should deter the city from fluoridating its water supply.

Alan Pryor, a member of Davis Citizens Against Fluoridation, says many studies claiming that fluoride greatly reduces cavity rates are outdated and that the negative impacts on health of kids and adults outweigh the meager benefits.

Pryor worries about a recent dramatic increase in dental fluorosis, a defect of tooth enamel caused by over-ingestion of fluoride that results in discoloration and decay, in children, saying about 41 percent of children ages 12 to 15 have developed the condition.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also acknowledge that regularly ingesting powdered or liquid infant formula mixed with fluoridated water “may increase the chance of a child developing the faint, white markings of very mild or mild enamel fluorosis.”

The center’s website also states, however, that the proper amount of fluoridation can prevent and control tooth decay.

Members of the Yolo County Health Council, meanwhile, who will be presenting the pro-side of the argument Thursday, still appear to be standing behind fluoride and the benefits of injecting it into municipal water supplies.

“There are 30 to 60 percent fewer cavities in baby teeth and 15 to 35 percent fewer cavities in adolescents and adults in communities with fluoridated water as compared to those without,” they say in materials submitted for Thursday’s meeting. The statistics, provided by the American Dental Association, are from 2005.

The rate of untreated dental decay in Davis, they say, has reached 23 percent in low-income preschoolers. An estimated one-fourth to one-third of children in Yolo County suffer from untreated dental problems, they add.

“(This could) result in pain and infection, as well as missed days of school and work,” their report says. “Water fluoridation would save parents time and money in dental visits, lost work and school time, and dental insurance co-payments.”

Presenters for Thursday’s meeting will include Carole Pirruccello, chairwoman of the Yolo County Health Council’s Subcommittee on Fluoridation, and several local dentists in private practice, among others.

The water committee will reconvene on May 20 to hear arguments from people opposed to fluoridation.

— Reach Tom Sakash at [email protected] or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @TomSakash

Tom Sakash

Tom Sakash covers the city beat for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at [email protected], (530) 747-8057 or @TomSakash.
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