water fluoridation

Fluoridation Debate at City Council

The following is an article from the Burlington Free Press regarding the fluoride debate at the last city council meeting…

[Article Begins]

Water fluoridation has become an issue in Burlington, and the City Council on Monday took note of the debate. After lengthy debate, and by a divided vote, it passed a resolution urging that the amount of fluoride in the city’s water be reduced to the minimum level recommended by state and national authorities.

The final version, which passed by a 7-4 vote, was a watered-down version of the original resolution. Language that declared fluoride was a “significant health risk” to infants was removed, as was language indicating that infants up to 6 months of age should receive no fluoride.

Joan Shannon, D-Ward 5, who sponsored the resolution with Sharon Bushor, I-Ward 1, urged that it be passed in its original form, calling it “a small and conservative step,” but the council, following the lead of Kurt Wright, R-Ward 4, narrowed it considerably.

To fluoridation supporters — dentists and the Vermont Department of Health — adding fluoride to the water a proven and cost-effective way to deliver a mineral that reduces tooth decay. To those who oppose it — groups such as the Fluoride Action Network — it is mandated medication that carries with it significant health risks, particularly for children.

Burlington’s Board of Health held public hearings on fluoride this year and decided by a 3-2 vote that the city should continue fluoridating its water supply but consider reducing the amount of fluoride. The board also said that exposing infants up to 6 months old to fluoride constituted “a significant public health risk.”

Even before last night’s crowded meeting began, Dr. Steve Arthur, director of the health department’s Office of Oral Health, e-mailed a lengthy statement to councilors arguing that fluoride is not a significant health risk. He said the department continues unreservedly to support water fluoridation.

He also took exception to a provision in the resolutions that would have the Board of Health leading the effort to develop information on fluoridation to be distributed to Burlington parents. The board, he wrote, “is not the appropriate body to ‘develop’ health education literature. Instead, he said, the Health Department should have that job.

The council, after listening to 21 speakers for and against fluoridation, leaned in Arthur’s direction. The “significant risk” language was removed from the resolution, and the Department of Health gained the seat it wished on the panels that will recommend the appropriate amount of fluoride in the water and develop the literature informing parents about fluoride.

The resolution was amended extensively on the floor. Two attempts to send the resolution to committee for fine-tuning failed, despite promises that it could be returned for a council vote at the Oct. 11 meeting.

[Article Ends]

I still believe that the city council is really missing the issue here. It’s my opinion that it’s not their job to decide on the validity and safety of water fluoridation… they should be deciding on if it’s the city’s job to force medication on its citizens. This is the real issue, not to become an authority on water fluoridation and make the decision for us all. While, its believed that the resolution that was passed puts the issue in the right direction, I don’t. By accepting this resolution, we are still accepting that the city has the right to force medicate all citizens. The resolution just suggests that the city needs to explore it further, educate the public on fluoride and debate on how much fluoride to add to the water.

I truly believe that when the dentists are pushing so hard to continue water fluoridation and get so antsy when anyone even mentions the possibility of risks of water fluoridation, it is mostly a result of fear. They are so afraid that if people feel they were hurt as a result of water fluoridation, they will file lawsuits and that their credibility will be lost. The city could also be liable because they are directly responsible for public water fluoridation, which I imagine is also putting a lot of pressure on the city councilors. This is why the government has no place getting involved in this kind of business. They are doing something that would be illegal for any doctor to do. A doctor cannot just start medicating a patient with a prescription grade drug without the patient’s consent. Why should the city government have this privilege?

Letter Regarding Fluoride

I recently received an email from Joanna Cole, a neighbor of mine here in Ward 7 of Burlington. We met her at our ward 4 and 7 NPA meeting. For those who don’t know this, Burlington has regular NPA meetings NPA stands for Neighborhood Planning Assembly. These are meetings where citizens and elected officials get together to discuss different issues usually related to their specific wards and sometimes larger city issues. They are great way to interact with your neighbors and talk to your officials in far more inviting environment than the city council meetings as you can often have direct contact with your elected officials rather than just speaking to them from the podium and not getting a response. I certainly recommend anyone interested in being more involved in city and neighborhood issues to come to a meeting. You can go to cedoburlington.org to find our where you local npa meets, the dates and times. We will post the link at our web site at ethanallenradio.com.

OK, back to Joanna’s letter. She told me her thoughts on the fluoridation of our drinking water. Joanna told me she believed that fluoride in the water helped keep her kids from having cavities and she went on to explain why she believes that Fluoride is safe for people to drink and she states that she considers water fluoridation a miracle public health measure.

I don’t know if she was clear on my position, so I responded with the following…

I understand what you are saying, but for me it’s not an issue of whether it’s good or not. It’s about the right to choose. I’m pro-choice. I think that the city should provide safe water to drink and let the individual decide what they want to put in it.

Personally, I’m not sure if fluoridating water does anything one way or the other. I grew up drinking fluoridated water all the time and I still have cavities… the problem with me is that I didn’t brush and floss. Therefore, it would seem that only way to prevent tooth decay is to brush and floss.

May 28, 2005 – Burlington Citizens Coalition Meeting

May 28th 2005, 2PM, Fletcher Free Library’s Fletcher Room
Burlington Citizens Coalition meeting

First organizational meeting of regular citizens making a grassroots organization to taking stands on issues that have largely been ignored by the majority of our elected City Officials. Currently working to end water fluoridation in Burlington.

11 people in attendance


  • The Green party stance is undecided, as most members are against fluoridation, but there are some issues involved as well
  • 57% of the state currently has water fluoridation in place
  • The amount that is currently being spent on fluoridation in Burlington is $30,000 per year
  • A person named Annette has applied to the Board of Health, but did not show up at the open house on the 23rd; City Council to make their appointments at the June 6th meeting
  • How should we get the word out to others about the issue?

    • Kevin Ryan: “by continuing the use of fluoride, children are being hurt”
    • Michael Connett: “an involuntary risk forced upon the citizens of Burlington”
    • Heavenly Ryan: Speaking at city council public forums about it, submitting Letters to the Editor of papers, having media presence at debates and public forums
    • Jay Vos: Bennington Board of Health is also working on fluoridation of water

  • Upcoming events:

    • May 31st 7PM, Fletcher Free Library Community Room – Film, “The Fluoride Deception”
    • June 11th 7PM, 28 Howard – Art Exhibit, “Cultural Landscape of Fluoride”
    • June 14th 7PM, Burlington College – Q & A with Dr. William Hirzy of the EPA
    • June 15th 6:30PM, City Hall’s Contois Auditorium – Open Public Debate