Florida County Votes to eliminate fluoride in drinking water…

Eight years ago, Pinellas County commissioners decided to add fluoride to the drinking water. On Tuesday, the board eliminated fluoride despite warnings from dentists who say that removing fluoride would cause more rotten teeth. Credit tea party activism for the reversal.

“What you see is the rise of the new conservatism,” said Todd Pressman, who lobbies county government. “I think it’s the tea party, but it’s also the mood shifting across the country. … The tea party is the tip of the sword.”

Most American medical groups strongly advocate adding fluoride to drinking water to improve dental health, particularly for needy children. A majority of U.S. communities provide fluoridated water.

Pinellas County provides water to about 700,000 people in the unincorporated areas and to most cities. Some officials in those cities were baffled by the decision to eliminate fluoride.

“I think it’s embarrassing and shortsighted,” Largo Mayor Pat Gerard said. Former County Commissioner Ronnie Duncan chastised commissioners for wrongly siding with tea party members.

“We’ve got big problems in this county and that’s the best they can do?” he said, noting unemployment and housing troubles.

“We’re disheartened by that,” said Dr. William Bailey, chief dental officer of the U.S. Public Health Service and acting director of the division of oral health for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The CDC’s position is all communities should receive the benefit of fluoridated water.”

Morroni, Roche and the two other commissioners who voted against fluoride, Neil Brickfield and Nancy Bostock, stood by the decision. They cited conflicting answers from dentists and major health groups about fluoride, such as whether topical use was better than drinking it in water. Skeptics and tea party members scoffed at national health organizations’ support of fluoride, noting questions and resistance in other countries.



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