Defluoridation Debate Flows Into Anchorage
Palmer has joined Fairbanks and Juneau to become the latest Alaskan city to stop the practice of adding fluoride to its drinking water. Is Anchorage next?
Lauren Maxwell Bio
Palmer has joined Fairbanks and Juneau to become the latest Alaskan city to stop the practice of adding fluoride to its drinking water. The switch has some residents questioning whether Anchorage should do the same.
Anchorage is one of the few cities that has no naturally occurring fluoride in its drinking water, which is why the city has added it for the last 30 years. Some people question fluoride’s health benefits and whether it’s fair to give people something they have no say over.
Dentist John Walsh says he has no doubt that fluoride can have negative health effects, but he’s more concerned with people’s rights.
“As far as informed consent is concerned, we have no choice as to whether we have it in the water or not,” says Walsh, who would like to see Anchorage abandon the practice.
But the majority of dentists disagree. The American Dental Association, as well as the Centers For Disease Control, say many studies show that fluoride is both safe and effective. Local dentist Julie Veerman says without fluoridated water, children get more cavities.
“It's inexpensive and it helps everyone,” says Veerman. “Even for those who never see a dentist it is beneficial.”
Any changes to Anchorage drinking water regarding fluoridation would have to come from the Anchorage Assembly. Assemblywoman Harriet Drummond says she is looking into the controversy but has yet to form an opinion on whether fluoride belongs in Anchorage’s drinking water.