For the second time in six years, Tooele voters on Tuesday rejected the notion of adding fluoride to their drinking water.
Voters rejected the fluoridation proposal 2,946 to 1,492 in Tuesday's vote — essentially the same margin as the last time fluoridation was rejected in the 1999 election.
Local dentist Clair Vernon asked the City Council to place the fluoridation question back on the ballot this year because he believed Tooele's growth, which has led to an influx of younger families, had changed the city's demographics enough to give the issue a chance.
Vernon said Tooele's proposal, which called for boosting the water's naturally occurring fluoride level of 0.2 parts per million to the accepted standard of 1 part per million, was vital to residents' dental health — especially for children. Last week, he told the Deseret Morning News people have been drinking fluoride in their water "since day one of man's existence. Any time water passes through the ground, it picks up minerals, and fluoride is one of those minerals."
He attributed the opposition to fluoridation to "scare tactics," saying, "anything in excess or used incorrectly is harmful, whether it be food or a car or gasoline."
But opponents pointed to some studies that say fluoride may be linked to a host of health problems. Some called fluoride poison, while others said it is beneficial but an option that should be left to parents. They called water fluoridation a governmental intrusion on the right to choose.
Voters in Davis and Salt Lake counties have approved fluoridation in recent years, and 43 of the nation's 50 largest cities have fluoridated drinking water. But fluoridation remains controversial, with some cities in Davis and Salt Lake counties trying to find ways out of adding fluoride to their water.