Florida County Votes Down Fluoridation

Only one county commissioner wanted to add the chemical to tap water.

A motion to add fluoride to tap water in a county in west-central Florida was defeated after four out of five county commissioners opposed it. The plan would have cost Hernando County about $800,000 to add fluoride to the water of about 62,000 people. The chemical is added to water to reduce the incidence of cavities.

The decision was made after a hearing in which commissioners listened to comments from local residents, as stated by the Tampa Bay Times:

A dentist made arguments in favor of fluoride:

However, the county health department offers a program to give dental care to low-income residents, said Jim Intzen, an opponent of fluoridation, so “it is a fallacy that low-income people don’t have access to affordable care,” as noted in Hernando Today.

Almost all health groups, including the CDC–which calls fluoridation one of the top 10 public health interventions of the 20th century–are pro-fluoridation. But there seems to be growing opposition to the practice. It was recently rejected in communities as diverse as Portland, Ore., Wichita, Kan., and Davis, Calif., for example. It was also voted out of the water last month in Wellington, Fla.

Some opponents cite dubious and/or crazy claims for their position, such as the person who in this case said that “Adolf Hitler used fluoride to poison Jews in concentration camps.”

But most opponents at least claim to root their position in science. Many cite a 2012 study in Environmental Health Perspectives which found that on average, children growing up in areas with high fluoride concentrations (mostly in China) had IQs that were seven points lower than those in low fluoride areas. One of the researchers in that study just co-authored a new study published online this month in Lancet Neurology which argues that fluoride (amongst five other chemicals) should be classified as a developmental neurotoxin.