Residents crowded Durango City Hall to present opposing arguments on fluoride in drinking water Monday.
Those opposed to fluoridation asked for the right to choose it, those in favor of it argued that fluoride protects children in poverty from cavities.
The Durango City Council held a special meeting to hear from residents ahead of its Feb. 7 vote.
Mayor Christina Rinderle told the crowd it seems likely the council will vote to put the question on the ballot.
“That may be the most equitable way to do it,” she said.
The council’s other choice is to vote to remove fluoride from the water, as the citizen petition requested.
The city spends $34,500 on fluoridation, and it will release more information about its fluoride, including its material safety data sheet before an election, City Manager Ron LeBlanc said.
Those opposed to fluoridation expressed concerns about its origin and possible side effects of consuming too much.
Many of those in favor of adding 0.7 milligrams per liter of fluoride to water worked in dentistry or health care, and they shared stories of the difference it can make.
Kari Plante, the regional oral-health specialist at the San Juan Basin Health Department, said she sees a difference in teeth of children who have fluoridated water compared with those who do not.
She recounted the story of a 4-year-old with seven cavities.
“This child will probably have dental problems his whole life,” she said.
Sherrod Beall, a nurse practitioner, spoke of working with young children in Salt Lake City with severe decay, who did not have fluoridation.
“When you see these young children with black nubs, it’s egregious in our society,”she said.
But there were a few dentists and others who argued that residents should have a choice about drinking fluoride.
“We should be able to choose whether or not we want to take a medication,” Shannon Soignier said.
She lived in an area that didn’t have fluoridated water, but her parents bought it for their family. Now, she has fluorosis, a mottling of the teeth.
Others argued it is not ethical to put fluoride in the water.
“I think everyone should have the right to consent to this,” Ron Marjolis said.
More info from the group opposed to fluoride can be found at www.cleanwaterdurango.org. Info about fluoride can also be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website . The San Juan Basin Health Department, which supports fluoridation, suggests the Supporting Good Health in Colorado website at http://coloradowaterfluoridation.org.