A petition that would stop the city of Durango from adding fluoride to its drinking water appears to have enough signatures, and now it will either be adopted by the Durango City Council within 30 days or left for voters to decide in the April election.
Amy Phillips, director of administrative services for the city clerk’s office, said Tuesday the office is verifying each signature, but it appears the petition received the required 593 signatures. Jim Forleo, a Durango resident who started the petition in November, estimated 800 signatures were collected.
“For all practical purposes, yes it looks like the petition received the sufficient amount of signatures,” Phillips said.
Phillips on Jan. 17 will present the petition to the Durango City Council, which has 30 days to decide either to adopt the ordinance to remove fluoride from drinking water or let voters decide in April.
Forleo, a local chiropractor who has long criticized the city’s fluoride program, said a large part of collecting signatures the past few months was educating residents about what he believes are the potentially harmful effects of adding fluoride to drinking water.
“We found a lot of people either didn’t know about it or just accepted it as something that’s been around for 70 years, without really knowing the detrimental aspects of it,” Forleo said. “But in the last several years, a lot of that information has been surfacing, and we are really becoming over-fluorided to death.”
Durango City Councilor Dick White said the council is likely to place the matter up for a vote in April, having consistently voiced support for fluoridation in drinking water, which the city says promotes oral health care for low-income residents.
“At this point, my expectation is we will put it on the ballot,” he said. “I really think it’s the appropriate action of the city of Durango to continue this service as recommended by the National Health Service because it’s protective of the oral health for everyone in this community, especially our disadvantaged residents.”
Communities around the country began an effort to stop fluoridating water when the federal government around 2007 cautioned about the risks of excessive fluoride consumption, which it said can lead to dental fluorosis.
Since 2010, the Fluoride Action Network reports 3.5 million residents throughout 64 North American communities have rejected the practice of fluoridating water, including Telluride; Montrose; Pagosa Springs; Albuquerque; Portland, Oregon; and Wichita, Kansas.
“It’s not like this petition is an isolated incident where we don’t want fluoride in our water,” Forleo said. “This is a trend that’s really gaining support around the country as people realize where this stuff comes from. It’s an industrial waste product.”
Forleo said he and other supporters of the petition will begin an educational campaign in the community if the measure is included on the April ballot.