After nearly two hours of discussion, the City Commission voted to approve the purchase price of water treatment chemicals, including fluoride.
BY MATT MENCARINI | STAFF WRITER
A nearly two-hour discussion during the Sept. 18 City Commission meeting revolved around whether the city had done its due diligence to ensure the fluoride it would purchase, and the manufacturer it would purchase from, met safety standards.
The commission, which is bound by law as a result of a 1957 voter-initiated referendum to fluoridate the water, voted 4-1 to approve the prices for the city’s water treatment chemical purchases.
Whether to fluoridate was not and could not be debated, although it remained close to the conversation.
The lone vote against the resolution came from Commissioner Troy Kent, who cited lack of information and communication from Harcros Chemicals, the city’s fluoride manufacturer.
On May 19, Kent sent a letter to Harcros Chemicals asking for a response within 10 days to a request for the specific data sheets the company submitted to NSF International that indicated the company was certified to sell fluoride, a request he said hadn’t been fulfilled.
NSF International is the not-for-profit organization the state of Florida uses to certify chemical manufacturers.
Kent said he was neither for nor against fluoridation of the city’s water, but he said he would not vote for the resolution because he felt the commission had not done its due diligence in ensuring the chemicals purchased were in fact the chemicals they would receive.
He emphasized a desire to know the manufacturer was in compliance with the law, and not just certified to sell the chemicals.
“National surveys of oral health over the last several decades document that fluoridation is still a safe and effective way of reducing cavities in adults, as well as children,” said Dr. Celeste Philip, acting director of the Volusia County Health Department, during the public comments portion of the meeting.
Philip added that the Center for Disease Control listed fluoridation as one of the 10 great public health achievements in the 20th century.
The list, which was released in 1999, also included vaccinations, the recognition of tobacco use as a health hazard and safer workplaces, among the Top 10.
Dave Ponitz, the city’s utilities manager, said the city’s water is checked three times per day to ensure the fluoridation level doesn’t exceed 0.7 milligrams per liter of water, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ recommended level.
With the approval of the resolution, the City Commission also gave City Manager Joyce Shanahan some additional direction.
The commission indicated a desire to have a batch test of the city’s water supply done by an independent company, which would be paid by the city and not the manufacturer, to determine if the fluoride chemicals met the standards.
The commission also expressed interest in sending a letter signed by all four commissioners, the mayor, city manager and city lawyer to Harcros Chemicals requesting the information Kent asked for.
The commission will also re-address a proposed water additive accountability ordinance during its meeting on Oct. 16.