A vocal audience speaks: No fluoride

'Not in our water': About 70 people turn out for meeting, most against fluoridation

Sandi Doughton
March 26, 2002

Water fluoridation took a thrashing in Spanaway Monday evening, along with health board members who failed to attend a public meeting on the subject.

The choice of refreshments wasn't very popular, either.

About 70 people turned out for the Tacoma/Pierce County Health Department's first community meeting on the agency's proposal to require fluoridation of all large water systems in Pierce County. Nearly all were vehemently opposed to the idea.

Many were also angry that no one from the Board of Health - the body that will vote on the proposal - was present.

The board will take up the issue at its April 3 meeting and hear public comment then, said Darrington Forbes, the health department staff member who conducted the meeting.

But several audience members pointed out that the board meetings begin at 3 p.m., when most people are working.

"This process is not really going over too smoothly," said Robert Hill of Tacoma. "A 3 p.m. board meeting. None of the board members are here. And there's cookies in the back instead of fresh fruit," he said to loud applause from the audience.

Instead of mandating water fluoridation, Hill suggested the health board exert its authority to yank soda machines from area schools as a way to reduce tooth decay.

Leland Weaver of Parkland offered another alternative to cavity prevention:
"You can do exactly the same thing if you just teach the kids how to brush their teeth."

Elsie Wescott, who lives in Puyallup, said her children developed unsightly spots on their teeth from consuming too much fluoride when they were young.

"I really want this not to be in our water," she said.

Health department Director Federico Cruz-Uribe, known for taking unpopular public health stands, is urging the board to mandate fluoridation instead of putting it to a public vote.