Kalama to consider removing fluoride from water

The city council will vote whether the issue will go on the ballot

Fluoride, a controversial topic in Portland, is up for debate in Kalama, Wash. (KOIN )
Fluoride, a controversial topic in Portland, is up for debate in Kalama, Wash. (KOIN )

KALAMA, Wash. (KOIN 6) – The controversial “F” word is once again rearing its head in Washington state.

Kalama City Council will decide Wednesday night whether to hand the decision over to voters on the November ballot.

Kalama Mayor Pete Poulsen, July 2, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Kalama Mayor Pete Poulsen, July 2, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

Mayor Pete Poulsen is pushing to remove fluoride from the water.

“It’s a very passionate subject, there’s no doubt about it,” said Poulsen, who served as Kalama’s water manager for 10 years.

Kalama’s water – which came third in a national water taste test — has been fluoridated for more than 50 years.

“It’s not clear to me why it is such a big issue because to me the answer is straight forward, fluoride in water helps,” said former director of health and human services Lesley Bombardier.

Concerns over toxicity

“[The] skull and cross bones always concerned me,” he said. “The warnings [say] ‘don’t breathe it in,’ and ‘don’t get it on your skin,” he said.

The warnings are for the chemical in a highly concentrated form.

Dr. Dan Roberts and Leslie Bombardier are in favor of keeping fluoride in the water system in Kalama, July 2, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Dr. Dan Roberts and Leslie Bombardier are in favor of keeping fluoride in the water system in Kalama, July 2, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

Poulsen said fluoride does not belong in a city-wide distribution system.

“I don’t really see personally why we do a mass medication thing with fluoride in the water,” said Poulsen.

Meanwhile, Dr. Dan Roberts said fluoride is not a medication.

“This is a mineral that naturally occurs in the water, we’re just trying to make sure the amount is optimal for health,” he said.

Last year, Portlanders voted to keep fluoride out of the water.

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