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City commission candidates show no signs of wanting to eliminate fluoride from city's water; forum on fluoride set for Wednesday at KU


Some of you have been asking whether Lawrence is going to have a great fluoride debate.

If you remember, City Commissioner Hugh Carter in February caught folks by surprise by asking the city to at least do more research on whether adding fluoride to the city’s drinking water is a good idea.

But thus far, that appears to be an issue that other city commissioners and the current crop of city commission candidates are avoiding like a root canal.

The city auditor put together a memo on the most recent studies related to benefits or dangers of water fluoridation. Commissioners have had that memo since late February, but haven’t brought it up once at a City Commission meeting.

The memo basically directs commissioners to three reports conducted by the National Research Council, the Congressional Research Service and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The reports do recommend a lowering of the amount of fluoride that is allowed in treated drinking water. The thinking, according to the reports, is that as more food and beverage products are made with fluoridated water, that the public is ingesting fluoride in more ways than ever. The city auditor notes Lawrence’s fluoridation policy already meets the lower guideline.

I recently asked each of the City Commission candidates for their views on the fluoride issue, and none advocated for the city to stop adding fluoride to the drinking water.

Most flatly rejected the idea. Jeremy Farmer was the lone candidate who left the door open a bit. Farmer said he does think there are many nutritionists who object to the idea, but studies show fluoride has improved dental health.

“Until presented with other compelling information on how unhealthy fluoride may be, I’m O.K. with it,” Farmer said.

Others had stronger opinions. Leslie Soden said she found it “a little embarrassing” that city commissioners were “wasting the time” of the city’s auditor to compile a report on the subject.

Scott Criqui said he thought the science behind water fluoridation was pretty sound.

“It has been so well studied, and the health benefits dramatically outweigh any downsides," Criqui said. "I haven’t heard anyone articulate a concern in a very scientific way.”

Terry Riordan, who is a medical doctor, said he has “no concerns” about the city’s water fluoridation practices. He said he not only supports the idea as a City Commission candidate, but also as a health advocate.

The other two candidates, Commissioner Mike Amyx and Rob Chestnut, said they haven’t seen any information that causes them concern about the city’s practices.

The issue has been a hot topic in various communities across the country at times. But it hasn’t been much of one in Lawrence at any point in the last couple of decades.

That is interesting because one of the world’s foremost opponents of water fluoridation lives in Lawrence. Albert Burgstahler, professor emeritus in the Department of Chemistry at KU, is the longtime editor of the journal Fluoride, which publishes much research advocating against water fluoridation.

Burgstahler will host a public forum at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday at 1001 Malott Hall on the KU Campus to discuss research related to fluoridation of public drinking water.


1 year ago

"Embarassing" meaning our independent city auditor / number cruncher should not be making health judgements. Let's leave that to our county health department to research. Thanks for letting me clarify my comment.


pea 1 year ago

Pretty insulting and alienating to say that taking a look at this is embarrassing. You see, that's how science works, Ms Soden - you have to keep looking at things. Asking an auditor to compile a report is not a very demanding thing to ask when you consider the entire city is ingesting this stuff.

I think all these candidates are speaking out of turn. I find it a more than a little disconcerting that they are all so confident in their level of expertise on the matter, rather than deferring to people who've actually done real research.

None cited anything close to a source from which they've drawn these conclusions and I'm worried that may signal a reckless approach to crafting policy.


jwillie6 1 year ago

A scientific report (142 pages & 496 References) published last month shows how premature death and severe health problems are far greater for all ages in the fluoridated Republic of Ireland (ROI) compared to unfluoridated Northern Ireland (NI) or other European countries.

In each of the disease categories a highly significant increased burden of disease has been recorded for ROI with the most pronounced variation being

early onset dementia (450%), sudden infant death syndrome (300%), sarcoidosis (250%), congenital hypothyroidism (220%), osteoporosis (100%) Downs syndrome (83%), depression (78%), rheumatoid arthritis (60%), diabetes (60%) and cancer where significant increased risk for a wide range of cancers are to be found in ROI compared to non-fluoridated NI and non-fluoridated Europe.

Overall cancers incidence was significantly higher in fluoridated ROI compared to non-fluoridated NI. The World Health Organisation has also reported that the overall incidence of cancer per 100,000 in the RoI is 85% above the European region average, 43% above the EU average.

The review is here: For a quick overview, look at the graphs on pages 8, 12 and 14.


oneeye_wilbur 1 year ago

Thank you ms. Sodden for realizing the waste of dollars for the auditor to consider the issue. I would like you if elected to remove this position from city staff.

Now then, is there one candidate who will step up and tell the public how much these retirees who are to move here or already here need to have as an annual income to live in this la la land aka Lawrence?. Can tell you right now, a retirement income of $20,000 a year is not enough and added to insult is the additional fee of $31.72 for recycling.


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