Council committee takes closer look at fluoridation of water
Ebb and Fluoride
The local campaign by Fluoride Free Austin to get the city to end fluoridation of Austin water – a dental health care practice first locally adopted after a public referendum in 1973 – got a boost in momentum Tuesday afternoon at a public meeting of City Council's Public Health and Human Services Committee. Mike Martinez, Laura Morrison, and committee Chair Randi Shade heard a couple of hours of public comment on the question in what is the first extended official consideration of the growing debate over the issue. Predictably, there was at least as much heat generated as light, as one citizen accused council of being "sociopathic killers" and a local dentist defending fluoridation berated the audience for being insufficiently respectful of dentistry. The crux of the argument remains: Dr. Philip Huang, medical director for the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department, defended fluoridation at the city's current levels (0.7 parts per million) as a reasonable measure for dental health; Neil Carman of Fluoride Free Austin and the Sierra Club countered that the city's additives, as byproducts of phosphate fertilizer production, are not "natural fluoride" but contaminated, potentially dangerous "industrial toxic waste" that has not been demonstrated to contribute to public health. The committee took no action but will report to the full council.