"Science outweighed by rhetoric" as Pinellas County votes to stop fluoridating water supply

"We will be the largest urban county in the state of Florida that doesn't have the vast majority of its population receiving fluoridated water."


Critics of flouridation have pointed out that there have has been a possible relationship between
fluoridated water and cancer.


The National Cancer Institute reports on its website that when it's all said and done, however, there is no indication of an increase in cancer from fluoridated water.


The debate resurfaced in 1990 when a study by the National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, showed an increased number of osteosarcomas (bone tumors) in male rats given water high in fluoride for 2 years (3). However, other studies in humans and in animals have not shown an association between fluoridated water and cancer (4).


In a February 1991 Public Health Service (PHS) report, the agency said it found no evidence of an association between fluoride and cancer in humans. The report, based on a review of more than 50 human epidemiological (population) studies produced over the past 40 years, concluded that optimal fluoridation of drinking water “does not pose a detectable cancer risk to humans” as evidenced by extensive human epidemiological data reported to date (4).


In one of the studies reviewed for the PHS report, scientists at the National Cancer Institute evaluated the relationship between the fluoridation of drinking water and the number of deaths due to cancer in the United States during a 36-year period, and the relationship between water fluoridation and number of new cases of cancer during a 15-year period. After examining more than 2.2 million cancer death records and 125,000 cancer case records in counties using fluoridated water, the researchers found no indication of increased cancer risk associated with fluoridated water.


Commissioner Ken Welch says the science supports fluoridation at the level the county was applying it at.
"And now were going to be the only large urban county in the state of Florida who doesn't use fluoridation, and we had more than a dozen health care professionals, pediatricians, dentists representing large organizations asking us to keep fluoridating. Unfortunately, we voted that down."


Welch says in addition to the foes of fluoridation who came out at the Pinellas BOCC meeting, they were joined by the insurgent Tea Party faction that has been making their presence felt in the county this year.
"That was the key difference this time," Welch said. "Again with misinformation, which is how the Tea Party seems to operate," he added.


Those members spoke about the government should not be about "medicating," but Welch says in fact, that if you want to attend public schools one has to get vaccinations.


"Science was outweighed by rhetoric today," Welch added.


Pinellas largest city, St. Petersburg, which handles its own water and uses fluoride.

John Morroni
  • John Morroni

In 1999, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta released a report calling fluoridation “one of the ten great public health achievements” of the century. And according to the CDC, 72.4 percent of the country had access to fluoridated water by 2008.

As of Tuesday, Pinellas County is now part of the 27 percent of the country that goes without.

The St. Pete Times Pinellas County correspondent, David DeCamp, provides all the details, including a comment from commissioner John Morroni, who on Tuesday was the only board member who flipped his vote from 2003, when the board voted for fluoridation for the first time. Morroni, who said "I don't think the county government should be telling people they have to have fluoride in the water."

Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch tells CL that he believes it's a major step back for the county.

Scroll to read more News Feature articles
Join the Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.

Newsletters

Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected]