The Times-Picayune is holding up state Sen. Dan Claitor's legislation making flouridation of municipal water systems in Louisiana impractical if not impossible as the "dumb bill of the week" in a Monday editorial. The Times-Picayune is holding up state Sen. Dan Claitor's legislation making flouridation of municipal water systems in Louisiana impractical if not impossible as the "dumb bill of the week" in a Monday editorial.
Issues raised by Senate Bill 638 are not unfamiliar to residents in Lafayette Parish; it was one year ago this Wednesday that the Lafayette City-Parish Council voted 8-1 in support of a resolution against adding flouride to Lafayette Utilities System water, although in that instance flouridation was rejected not over health concerns - three dentists and a representative of the Louisiana Oral Health Program spoke in favor of adding flouride to water - but rather because of the cost of adding the chemical and because some council members viewed it as an unfunded mandate by the state.
Claitor last week told The Advocate that his bill is about making sure residents get adequate information about their water companies' intentions with flouride by requiring water companies "to inform their customers of plans to fluoridate their water supplies and to forbid the purchase of the chemical additive from China." The Times-Pic takes issue with Claitor's expressed intention, arguing that the bill is a roundabout way of preventing flouridation through burdensome regulation:
Sen. Claitor's bill attempts to tie fluoride to concerns about unsafe products from China. The bill says that any chemical or compound that's been manufactured or packaged in China is deemed a public health hazard and prohibits its use in public water systems.
He's raising a false fear. Alan Levine, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, points out that fluoride is heavy and costly to transport. Because of that, Louisiana water systems that fluoridate their water use chemicals manufactured in the United States.
But the bill could still hamper fluoridation. The federal government does not track the origins of fluoride, so the state would have to create its own tracking system. Secretary Levine said that would likely mean the state could not approve fluoridation projects. That would be a shame. While some people oppose fluoridation because they fear ill health consequences, the practice is supported by groups like the American Dental Association because fluoride prevents tooth decay.
Read the full editorial here.