August 7, 1999

The California Dental Association spent nearly $50,000 on its successful initiative to get fluoride added to Mountain View's water supply, more than 10 times the amount spent by a grassroots campaign that opposed the ballot measure.

"I've never seen such slick brochures like the ones the CDA sent out for the campaign," said Mountain View nurse Berry Barewald, who led the campaign against fluoridation. "The fact that they spent so much money is really incredible."

Barewald said she has to rely on grassroots efforts, including an Internet site (www.nofluoride.com) to let people know about the hazards of fluoride, which she says include cancer, tooth discoloration and bone deformities.

But public health experts say anti-fluoride research is flawed and that the additive is a safe way to prevent tooth decay.

"This is one of the most studied areas of public health," said Dr. Martin Fenstersheib, Santa Clara County public health officer. "The U.S. has close to 40 years worth of research showing the benefits of fluoridated water."

Fight Continues
Barewald said her group, Citizens for Safe Drinking Water, hasn't given up on Mountain View. The group is considering future ballot drives to get the question brought back to the voters.

Mountain View voters approved water fluoridation in the November 1998 election. Dentists and health professionals say fluoride is a safe additive that prevents tooth decay, while opponents blame it for everything from birth defects to learning disabilities to cancer.

Supporters of fluoridation in Mountain View, backed by the California Dental Association, spent $45,198.75 on the campaign, a review of records at the Mountain View City Clerk's Office showed. Opponents of the measure spent just $4,772.

The funds from the California Dental Association were distributed during the campaign by the "Yes on Measure 0" committee. Expenses included $30,000 for mailings and $1,459 to a law firm which handled the committee's paperwork. The committee returned $4,000 unspent to the dental association, filing statements showed.

The pro-fluoride campaign was spearheaded by Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, who became involved after learning of the high cavity rate among Mountain View's schoolchildren. Simitian, a former Palo Alto mayor who is running for state assembly, helped arrange for more than $1 million in funding to pay for the fluoridation, expected to be in place by next summer.

Palo Alto Forum
Barewald said she'll be taking part in an upcoming educational forum of fluoride in Palo Alto, sponsored by the Bay Area Environmental Forum. Palo Alto's water has been fluoridated since 1954, and hundreds of other cities nationwide have also had fluoride added for decades.

Palo Altan Barbara Dawson, one of the organizers of the forum, said she believes fluoride is hazardous and wants her neighbors to know more about the other side of the debate.

The forum will be held Aug. 17 to 9 p.m. at the Peninsula Conservation Center at 3921 East Bayshore Road. Dawson said she believes the studies that have found links between fluoridated water and lower IQ scores in children, cancer and genetic damage.

"The ultimate goal is to get fluoride taken out of Palo Alto's water, but the first goal is to educate ourselves and update the facts," said Dawson.