OPUD directors firm against fluoride with 3-2 vote
Four people spoke in favor of using fluoride and four spoke against during Thursday night's public hearing before Olivehurst Public Utility District.
Resident Justin DeVorss called fluoride a drug and said residents have a right to be informed about "medical treatment."
"We are in fact mass-medicating people, and we don't have a choice," said DeVorss, who said he collected signatures of 139 residents who are against the use of fluoride.
"We as a community don't want fluoride," he said. "The facts are the facts. The community doesn't want it."
Gerald Reynolds, who said he has been a dentist since 1969, said he has seen the benefits in communities that have fluoride in drinking water.
"It was wrenching to my heart when I had a 6- or 7-year-old child sitting in my chair who didn't have fluoride in their water," Reynolds said.
Yuba City pediatric dentist Robert Ripley noted that Yuba City has fluoride in its water.
"Since Yuba City put fluoride in its water, there has been a huge decrease in cavities," he said.
— Eric Vodden
Fluoride will be removed from Olivehurst Public Utility District drinking water after directors voted Thursday to reaffirm their earlier action to no longer use the chemical compound.
Directors voted 3-2 against reconsidering the action taken last month to discontinue the use of fluoride. The split was the same as it was then with Jeff Phinney, Dennise Burbank and Gary Bradford opposing a motion by James Carpenter to reconsider.
Burbank was the swing vote from when the board a year ago voted 3-2 to continue the use of fluoride. She was not on the board at that time and won election last year on a platform of removing fluoride.
"I was in the audience and listened to both sides of the issue," Burbank said, referring to public meetings prior to last year's vote to keep using fluoride. "Even if there is a small chance of hurting somebody, we don't do it."
Nearly 30 people crowded into the board chambers for the request by the First 5 Yuba Commission for reconsideration. The commission, which acts as a clearinghouse for funds designed to promote children's health, provided the district $113,500 in state funds for the fluoridation program.
Supporters, including local dentists, have promoted the chemical compound's benefits in fighting tooth decay. Opponents point to studies maintaining excess amounts can cause bone disease and other ailments.
Phinney referred to a recent National Research Council study he said outlined unknowns related to fluoride and a conclusion that more study is needed. He said educating residents on good oral hygiene and nutrition habits was preferable to using the compound.
"There are better ways to do it than put it in the water," he said.
However, Carpenter noted support largely came from dental experts while opposition came from residents. He noted the level of fluoride put into the water is one-sixth of what is considered to be a safe limit.
"The Internet is a wonderful place to find information, but there is no filter on information that is designed to scare people rather than inform people," he said, referring to anti-fluoride websites.
Ron Dougherty joined Carpenter in supporting reconsideration.