The August 2015 Gold King Mine spill forced the environmental health of the Animas River into harsh perspective. It was shocking to see our beloved river turn bright orange from mine discharge. Water quality became our focus – and stayed there.
Durango is an environmentally- and health-conscious community; residents are concerned about water quality. The spill initiated a conversation that now extends to the question of whether to continue Durango’s community water fluoridation program. Over 1,000 petition signatures were obtained in support of an ordinance to end the program.
That is an impressive number of residents with good intentions, but whose actions fly in the face of science and reason and may create a greater problem than currently exists.
Among the scientific evidence being rejected by the petitioners is the more than 100 national and international health organizations that universally recognize community water fluoridation as a way to prevent dental decay and disease. They include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Dental Association, American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, World Health Organization and our state and local health departments.
These organizations are composed of health and science experts who have thoroughly reviewed and evaluated the collective evidence that community fluoridation programs save millions of people, especially low-income children, from avoidable oral and physical health problems and their associated costs.
Critics of fluoridation argue for an individual’s right to determine whether they consume fluoride. At 0.7 parts per million, a relatively small amount of fluoride (like the chlorine in our water at a low concentration), provides a significant, safe and effective public health benefit.
With 30 percent of Durango School District 9-R students qualifying for free or reduced lunches, we believe the benefit should continue to extend to those with the fewest resources.
Durango’s fluoridation program has been in place since 1956, and it has been a success. We do not need to create a new health care crisis for those who can afford it least. Vote to retain fluoride and against ballot measure 1A.