On Bigfoot, UFOs and Pinellas fluoride wars

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It is already the third of April, so you know this is no joke: as of this week, 7% of voters think the moon landing was faked, 21% say a UFO crashed in Roswell, 14% think the CIA helped create the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s, and most relevant to Floridians, 9% believe that the government adds fluoride to our water supply for sinister reasons.

These findings, derived from Public Policy Polling’s survey of 1,247 registered American voters, are timely considering the see-saw of fluoride policies at play in Pinellas County.

In 2003, following years of debate, the Pinellas County Commission voted 6-1 in favor of joining other Florida counties and most of the US in adding fluoride to its drinking water, and in June 2004, fluoridation officially began. 

But that wasn’t case closed. In October 2011,  over a discussion of whether to lower the amount of fluoride by 0.1 milligrams per liter the commission unexpectedly ended up voting 4-3 to stop fluoridation all together. This same vote was taken up two more times before the end of 2011, and each time the vote remained 4-3.  On December 31, fluoridation ceased. 

Until two former state legislators seeking Pinellas Commission seats made this an issue. Charlie Justice and Janet Long each cited their opponent’s opposition to fluoride as impetus for their campaigns, and incumbents Nancy Bostock and Neil Brickfield were defeated, respectively. 

With Justice and Long leading the charge, and with John Morroni changing his vote, Pinellas voted 6-1 once again to start fluoridation. The November 27 vote was just implemented in March.

Why all of this drama over the benign, if not useful, mineral?  Opponents to fluoridation — at least those at the October 2011 Pinellas commission meeting, according to a Tampa Bay Times report — see fluoride as the culprit of sundry medical and skin ailments — or more extreme, as “a Nazi policy designed to kill off undesirables”, or “terrorism at the highest.”

Despite these  protests, Pinellas water now includes fluoride at 0.7 ppm, which is the minimum of the optimum range of 0.7 to 1.2 ppm recommended to promote dental health, and well below the EPA’s maximum containment level of 4.0 ppm.

Fluoride is recommended because it works (…unless that is just mind control talking).   But count me among the 14% of people holding out hope that Bigfoot exists.