Forks City Council met Monday night and took care of business. They also made a major decision, the topic of which brought out much public comment at the beginning of the meeting.
The agenda listed “Fluoridation of City water” as an action item. The city has fluoridated the community’s water supply since the 1950s but due to some equipment issues, the addition of this substance had been curtailed several months back.
With the equipment unavailable the question had been raised, should fluoridation be continued?
Since the meeting was held via Zoom, public comment was read by Clerk-Treasurer Audrey Grafstrom.
Four letters were received in support of continuing fluoridation and six letters in support of discontinuing fluoridation.
A letter from Pat and Mark Soderland stated it was not the time to remove fluoride which has improved public health since the 1950s, “Consider this decision, don’t rush, to stop it now will erase our progress in public health.”
Former Mayor Nedra Reed shared in her comments that there were programs that could assist the city with regard to the equipment needed to begin adding fluoride again, “Let residents vote,” Reed said. Reed’s letter also noted that many families lack easy access to dental care asking the council to consider them before making a decision to stop.
A comment submitted from the Bogachiel Clinic said that there was medical proof that fluoride is beneficial, “Please consider the long-term effect of your decision, we urge the city to fluoridate the water.”
Not supporting the return of fluoride was Forks resident Heidi Oberfranc. In her comment, she said, “Leave it out for the health of the community.” Oberfranc said studies show that fluoride has negative effects on the thyroid, “Fluoride has unacceptable risks and is a health hazard,” Oberfranc stated, “it is an unnecessary chemical in our water.” Oberfrance shared that she and her husband have thyroid issues, which they believe to be caused by fluoride.
Sasha Folkner was also against the addition of fluoride. Her letter stated that there is no evidence that fluoride makes for better teeth, and may even affect IQs. “Find other ways to fight tooth decay, don’t place medicine in our water.”
Molly Erickson said in her statement, “I implore the city to stop this unnecessary practice.” Erickson said she felt just the act of city employees having to handle the substance was putting their health in danger. “There are many other sources of fluoride,” Breed said
Mary Dilley, also against the addition of fluoride said in her statement, “Fluoride should be a personal choice, don’t force it on the community.”
When it came time to vote councilmember Juanita Weissenfels said she could not decide. Saying she had always heard the story that Forks children had better teeth due to the addition of fluoride.
Council members Joe Soha, John Hillcar, and Jeff Gingell each shared that they had done their own research since the topic of fluoridation had been raised a few months ago by councilmember Gingell and felt comfortable voting on the subject.
Soha shared he had grown up on well water and had no dental issues and has a filter in his home in Forks to remove it, saying, “I don’t see it as a good thing.” He said City government should not force fluoride on the people.
Gingell said he found there was no research showing that ingesting fluoride helps the teeth, “It is already in our water table, no need to add more.” “In researching, I found that topical fluoride is effective, but I could not find any benefit from ingesting it.”
Councilmember Soha made a motion to no longer fluoridate the city water supply and Hillcar seconded, Weissenfels abstained and councilmember Mike Gilstrap was absent. The motion carried with three council members approving and one abstaining.