Council Member Adam Bazaldua has clarified his stance on fluoridation, saying Dallas will continue to add fluoride to its water supply after city leaders entertained arguments against fluoridation at City Hall last week.
As previously covered by The Dallas Express, a heated discussion was sparked in the council chambers between anti-fluoridation advocates and members of the Dallas City Council Quality of Life, Arts and Culture committee. Committee members said presenters failed “to bring the A-game,” but the advocates said they were treated unfairly and not given enough time to present their arguments.
In a recent interview with WFAA’s Inside Texas Politics, committee chair Adam Bazaldua said the committee was not necessarily questioning fluoridation but wanted to hear both sides of the debate so the City could justify its decision.
“I thought that it was most important for us, if we are going to definitively give a stance that we support something or oppose it, that we should give the benefit of the doubt to the subject being risen [sic] by our constituents,” he said. “I really wanted to dig into some of the opposition that we’ve heard.”
He noted that Dallas City Hall has seen “a consistent stream of speakers during open mic” protesting fluoridation for several years.
“This wasn’t brought forth with an intent to take action to take something away, but more so so that we have the resources and knowledge that we should have to be able to go back to our constituents who we hear from on a regular basis and explain to them why this is something that is supported by the City of Dallas and why we believe that there is a benefit for the public good,” he said.
While Bazaldua provided an outlet for anti-fluoridation arguments to be presented to city leaders, he also said anti-fluoridation activists employ “scare tactics” and promote “not well-researched claims.”
“I think that’s what we ended up seeing,” he said. “We called out the second panel for giving us a lack of context.”
Bazaldua said council briefings should never have “a biased stance” but should rather be “an educational opportunity for policymakers to sift through both sides of the argument and make our own informed decisions.”
Bazaldua does not expect the committee to propose any changes to the City’s practice of fluoridation, but he does intend to issue a statement in the near future to explain the City’s position on the subject.
He said that while potential harm can occur from an “over-concentration” of fluoride, Dallas Water Utilities merely adds enough fluoride to “supplement” naturally occurring fluoride to meet fluoridation levels recommended by the CDC.
“There were claims that have been brought forth about different cities that have gone away from [fluoridation], and after digging in, learning that those cities don’t necessarily have … as much to compensate for with the natural occurring fluoride in their water,” he said. “But everyone seems to be looking to a certain level that is recommended by the CDC.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water, measured as 0.7 parts per million (ppm). According to city documents, fluoride appears naturally in Dallas water at 0.35 ppm, and Dallas Water Utilities adds fluoride at all three water treatment plants to achieve a fluoride concentration of 0.7 ppm.
Throughout all three treatment plants, the fluoride concentrations of both raw and tap water are measured more than 4,000 times per year, according to the City.
“I ultimately believe that this is a practice that serves a good to the public,” said Bazaldua. “I think a lot of [our] questions … have been answered. Overall, I don’t see this … being something that action would come from. In fact, I believe that this is something that would result in no action,” he said. “I do not see that fluoride will be taken out of Dallas water.”
Anti-fluoridation advocate Rick North told The Dallas Express he found Bazaldua’s interview “very frustrating.”
Regina Imburgia, one of the anti-fluoridation advocates referenced by Bazaldua who often speaks before the Dallas City Council, told The Dallas Express that she was very disappointed by Bazaldua’s recent comments.
“I was very disappointed, and it’s disgusting,” she claimed. “Because he did not allow the truth to be provided to the public and to the committee. He shut down questions, and he did not perform the job of a chairman properly.”
During last week’s Quality of Life committee meeting, the briefing from anti-fluoridation advocates and the subsequent questions from committee members were cut short due to the meeting’s time constraints. The fluoridation briefing was placed last on the meeting’s agenda.
Imburgia said that if Bazaldua took issue with some of the claims made by presenters, he should have been more specific in identifying those issues rather than shutting down questions.
“He should have exposed to the public exactly what he was talking about,” she said. “And how he felt it was misrepresentation so that it could be looked at and the truth could be seen.”
Imburgia added that Bazaldua should have allowed the meeting to continue and allowed more committee members to ask questions. She said local anti-fluoridation activists will continue speaking to the council and intend to amplify their voices even louder.