Credit to Jill Beathard at Snowmasssun.com
With no members of the public present other than two dental professionals and a journalist, the Snowmass Water and Sanitation District board of directors voted Friday to stop fluoridating its drinking water.
The board began reconsidering its practice in May after the federal government revised its recommendations regarding public-water fluoridation. Snowmass already followed the new standards, but the announcement sparked a debate that continued for three board meetings.
Friday’s meeting began with public comment from Ward Johnson, a Snowmass Village resident who practices dentistry in Aspen.
“Being a dentist in Aspen since 1992, of course I am in favor of continuing the fluoridation in the water,” Johnson said, citing a reduction in the rate of cavities in areas of the valley that have fluoridated drinking water. “In my opinion, the only thing that has changed is we have toothpaste with fluoride now. Without systemically ingesting that fluoride, … you do not get the lifetime of benefit that you get when fluoride is in your enamel.”
A report prepared by Glenwood Springs-based engineering company SGM agreed with Johnson’s statement on the dental-health benefits of fluoridation but noted that ingesting too much has proven to have negative health consequences and that research is limited on other potential impacts.
“Only recently have the studies been done on the effects of fluoride beyond your teeth,” board member Dave Dawson said Friday. “People can fluoridate if they wish. I don’t see it as our business to medicate the public.”
The board voted 3-1 on a motion to discontinue fluoridation. Tim Belinski was absent from the meeting. Hamby said district staff will immediately stop adding fluoride to the water.