Valparaiso panel opens discussion on adding fluoride to water
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent May 21, 2014 7:54PM
Updated: June 24, 2014 7:44AM
VALPARAISO — The city’s Fluoride Commission kicked off its first meeting Wednesday to formulate a plan that allows open discussion among the experts.
Mayor Jon Costas and state Sen. Ed Charbonneau were among those who attended.
The seven-member commission will hold eight meetings this summer and recommend whether the city should continue or discontinue adding fluoride to the city water supply.
That includes a June 19 meeting with experts in favor of continuing adding fluoride as a tooth decay preventative and a June 25 meeting with experts who recommend discontinuing the practice that dates to just after World War II.
Charbonneau said that as the chairman of the Senate Environmental Committee and a Valparaiso resident, he attended because he’s curious about an issue being discussed around the country and the world, but he is not aware of any similar efforts anywhere else in the state.
“I want to take advantage of getting in on the ground floor,” he said.
Charbonneau also looks forward to hearing from well-informed people on both sides of the issue and Costa’s approach to studying the situation.
“It’s been floating around long enough that it’s probably time for us to look at the situation,” he said.
Costas said it was important to look at both sides of the issue and told the commission members that they should look at whether putting something into the water is necessary.
Gary L. Foreman, the man who first raised the issue for the city about six years ago, said Dallas, Portland, Hawaii and most of western Europe have ceased adding fluoride to water.
“I was a proponent for fluoride years ago,” said Foreman, who as a documentary filmmaker, began to research the issue.
City Council member Tim Daly, who serves on the commission, said he’d begun to get many emails about the matter.
Other commission members include Utilities Board president and attorney Dave Bengs, Utility Board member and attorney Mark Thiros, neuropsychologist Dr. Judith Harrington, mother and nurse Jennifer Waldo, Valparaiso University chemistry professor and environmentalist John Schoer, and attorney Kevin Steele, chairman of the Nature Works Conservancy District, which services Aberdeen and gets water from the city.
Retired utilities director John Hardwick is acting as researcher for the group, which will next meet June 4 at the water treatment plant.