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Fluoridated water required statewide, despite voter wishes

Fluoridated water required statewide, despite voter wishes


November 11, 2002

REDDING -- While Redding and Watsonville debated the advantages of
fluoridated water in last week’s election, state health officials say cities may have
no choice in the matter.
State law requires that communities with at least 10,000 water hookups add fluoride
to their water systems, although tax money can’t be used for it.
But as long as money to buy and install fluoridation equipment is offered, the city
must add fluoride, said Dr. David F. Nelson, a fluoridation consultant with the state
Department of Health Services.
“The state will ultimately enforce the law,” Nelson said.
Last week, Redding residents voted to prohibit the city from adding chemicals to
its water that aren’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration, although that
agency has no jurisdiction over water issues. Redding Citizens for Safe Drinking
Water raised questions during the campaign about the safety of fluoride and called
fluoridation “mass medication.”
Later that week, the city was offered $1.6 million to fluoridate its water, said Jon
Roth, executive director of the California Dental Association Foundation, which
funnels grant money from the California Endowment to communities for their
fluoridation efforts.
The passage of Redding’s Measure A, therefore, is inconsequential, Nelson said.
“State law trumps local initiative.”
Money for fluoridation has also been offered and accepted by Watsonville
residents, who voted on a similar measure last Tuesday.
Fluoride has been used in water systems since 1945 to help prevent dental decay.
However, only about one-third of Californians have access to fluoridated water,
compared with nearly two-thirds of all Americans. The state passed its fluoridation
law in 1995.
Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Modesto also voted down fluoridation but did not
receive grant money, so the state won’t require them to do it. Meanwhile, cities,
including Los Angeles and Sacramento, have accepted grant money and are in the
process of fluoridating.

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Trumping of common sense

Isn't the State also big on patients' rights, which include the time-honored right to REFUSE treatment? In any argument in favor of fluoridation I have ever heard or read, fluoride is described in medicinal terms: it is a prescription to prevent tooth decay, and not one without potential downsides or side-effects (hence warning labels on fluoridated toothpastes and mouthwashes, for example). How is mandatory mass-medication of the water supply consistent with the patient right to refuse treatment? How is it that the State believes it has authority to overrule localities' own decisions on medical matters -- and how is it that localities claim the authority to overrule individuals' own decisions?

Who is going to lobby Sacramento to repeal the idiotic 1995 law? Which city is going to sue the state to prevent enforcement of this stupid statute? How can the State overrule a vote of the people on a matter that doesn't affect public safety? Something is way out of whack here, and it needs to be repaired right away.


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