Recap FAC Meeting 12/04/2013



By Marlene Lily, Media ond Outreach Director, Clean Water Sonoma Marin, Santa Rosa, California (12/09/2013)

I went to the meeting of the Fluoridation Advisory Committee last week [12/04/2013]. The audience was very small. There are two new members: Stephen Fuller-Rowell of the Sonoma County Water Coalition and Jack Atkin of the Sonoma County Taxpayers Assn. I think Jack’s appearance is good news. My hope is that he will draw attention to the ridiculous cost of this plan, which will ultimately fall on the rate payers. (Santa Rosa water rates will be going up yet again in July, WITHOUT fluoridation. There’s a meeting about it at City Hall “at or after 5 p.m.” on Jan. 7.) And of course Stephen has been doing excellent work to oppose fluoridation for many months, focusing primarily on environmental issues.

The gist of the FAC meeting was that the whole process is now in slow motion. Last summer, the DHS put out a request for proposal for an environmental assessment, and no proposals were submitted. Now they have to redo the RFP [Aquatic Assessment Department of Health Services Request for Proposals] and provide more time and money and see if anyone comes forward with a proposal.

The FAC will develop its recommendation for the DHS in late summer or early fall.

Dawna Gallagher-Stroeh pointed out that the SCWA is not required to fluoridate under AB733 because it’s a wholesaler, and only has 156 connections. Lynn Silver-Chalfin agreed with that and said only the cities of Petaluma and Santa Rosa actually fall under the AB733 mandate. (And of course the COUNTY Health Department has no authority to set requirements for the CITY governments.) But Penny Vanderwolk, a committee member, said the DHS push to fluoridate is not because of the AB 733 mandate but because of children’s dental health. ([Vanderwolk] was the author of a letter to the PD a few months ago that drew a lot of attention.) [Vanderwolk] apparently doesn’t know that there are juvenile tooth decay epidemics in many cities that have been fluoridated for decades, including San Francisco, Atlanta, and Chicago,

Laura Gaeta-Wilson, D.D.S. (she wasn’t there) has developed a financial analysis of the cost to give fluoride tablets to the at-risk children. She thinks there are only 2800 of them. They could all get the tablets and dental sealants for about $500 each–or about $1 million total, MUCH less than the cost of fluoridation, with no environmental damage and without poisoning the entire population.

Committee member Ernie Newbrun, a retired dentist and longtime fluoride promoter, asserted that fluoridation is effective. Stephen Fuller-Rowell disagreed. Newbrun said . that proof of effectiveness is in the literature. [Fuller-Rowell] said, “I’ve read the literature and it’s not there.” Stephen also said that in terms of value for money, fluoridation is a very inefficient use of public funds. (He later said that since it’s not effective, “there’s no benefit whatever to offset the cost.”)

Howard Pollick, D.D.S., another longtime fluoride promoter (in the audience) asked if the FAC has a scientific subcommittee. Chalfin said a scientific subcommittee could be considered. Chalfin has resigned from her position as County Public Health Officer, and this was her last FAC meeting. She will be replaced on the FAC by Rita Scardaci, head of the Department of Health Services.

[Vanderwolk] said that the scope of the committee’s work is engineering and environmental. Other than the environmental ones, scientific considerations are outside the scope of the committee. I remember that at one earlier meeting I attended, Chalfin said health effects would not be discussed. (I wonder if the supervisors are aware that the committee has been limited in this way. Taking the most important topic off the table is an interesting strategy for the “health” department, especially after the Grand Jury issued a mandate to the supes and the DHS to present “both sides.”)

Chalfin said she has “read all the studies,” and has not seen anything that would make her change her mind about the saftely and effectiveness of fluoridation.

I have encouraged Deb Fudge, who is running for 4th District Supervisor, to schedule an informational meeting for the Windsor City Council like the one that was held in Cotati. She has said she would not say anything about fluoridation until she hears about it at a public meeting. She is not willing to look at the Clean Water Sonoma-Marin Facebook page.

Meetings like the one in Cotati need to be held in Sonoma, Santa Rosa, and Petaluma, as well as Windsor.

Now that the time pressure is off, it appears that this can be done, since it honors the Grand Jury’s mandate to present “both sides.” Both sides have never been given equal time at any events organized by the County.

So far, the candidates for 4th District Supervisor are treating fluoridation like a hot potato. Nobody is willing to take a position. They need to hear from their constituents. Having no opinions is not a quality I consider admirable in a public official.

As for Santa Rosa, Julie Combs (and I believe Gary Wysocky) are against fluoridation. We need to see what it will take to have a meeting before the Santa Rosa City Council. It will probably happen after the first of the year.