BISBEE — The City of Bisbee will no longer add fluoride to the community water source.
After a presentation from Councilman Gabe Lindstrom and a call to the public, the council voted 7-0 to discontinue fluoridation to the city’s water system. Lindstrom cited long-term health effects as one of the main reasons why he brought the issue up to the council Tuesday night.
“We don’t know the long-term effects of ingesting too much fluoride. It’s been linked to autoimmune diseases, fluorosis and bone cancer, to name just a few examples,” he said.
Lindstrom said he’s had multiple members of the community come to him to voicing concerns about the effects of ingesting fluoride. He cited his own experience as a healthcare provider and multiple studies he reviewed as additional reasons for the measure on Tuesday’s agenda.
After speaking with leaders from the Arizona Water Company, Lindstrom said adding fluoride to the water system is a costly measure. He said the water company pays for fluoride and it can be potentially dangerous to the water workers if they aren’t outfitted with proper clothing while handling the chemical.
“If we step back a minute, it doesn’t add anything to the water, it’s potentially unsafe to ingest, it’s a waste product from aluminum phosphate mining — not only that, we are paying to add it to our water,” Lindstrom said. “Even if there is a 1-percent risk of harm, we should discontinue the process.”
Instead of adding fluoride to the water system, he suggested introducing dental hygiene in schools and promoting alternatives to fluoride. Councilwoman Joan Hansen said when the city first introduced the chemical to the water system, it seemed like a good idea, but since then has had a change of heart.
“Why do we have it in our system and why do we put it in our bodies?” she asked.
Bisbee now joins cities like Tucson, Flagstaff and many others across the country to eliminate fluoride from the community water system, Lindstrom said.
The council also added Bisbee to a long list of cities across the country who support the Paris Agreement.
Following a presentation from community member Richard Green, the city council voted unanimously to support the global climate agreement President Donald Trump promised to pull the U.S. out of after he took office. The vote comes after Green submitted a communitywide petition to the council in July 2017. The Paris Agreement is a worldwide initiative signed by dozens of countries to address global climate change. The agreement promises that all the countries involved would work together to keep the global temperature from rising above 2 degrees Celsius from “pre-industrial levels,” according to the United Nations website.
In June 2017, Trump announced that he would pull the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. Since Trump’s decision, cities across the country have made their own initiatives to be environmentally aware and stick to the Paris accord on a local level.
Council agreed Tuesday to enter into a nonbinding agreement to support environmental efforts backing the Paris initiative.
In other council-related news, a public meeting will be held seeking input on what to do with $471,000 Bisbee is expected to receive from the Arizona Department of Housing Regional Account.
Bonnie Williams from the Southeastern Arizona Governments Organization broke down possible uses for the money, which must be used to benefit low- to moderate-income individuals, allay community blight or address emergency issues. Andy Haratyk, public works director for the city, addressed the council urging that the funds be used for much needed projects in Tintown or to complete unfinished projects in other Bisbee neighborhoods.
Haratyk said the drainage and paving situation in Tintown is dire.
“Living in that neighborhood is like living in the third world,” he said.
Even if all the funds went to the Tintown project though, Haratyk said it won’t be enough.
Council did not indicate when a decision would be reached on what to do with the funds.