The Fluoride Action Network (FAN) applauds the utilities staff and decision makers of Branson, Missouri–as well as the local residents who spoke up–for taking action to protect the community and public employees from the serious risks posed by the practice of water fluoridation.
On November 14th, the Branson Board of Alderman voted unanimously to repeal their municipal ordinance that allowed for the addition of fluoridation chemicals to the public water supply, effectively prohibiting the practice. This initial vote was followed by a second unanimous vote to ensure that the process for removing the chemical was conducted as quickly as possible, and this vote was followed by a verbal pledge from the mayor to sign the ordinance change into law immediately following the meeting.
The decision was a crushing defeat for the pro-fluoridation bureaucrats and lobbyists, like the Florida-based American Fluoridation Society, who battled with FAN to educate aldermen throughout the process. It’s a wonderful example of what happens when decision-makers take the time to hear from the community and conduct independent research. Aldermen studied the issue for months, toured the water treatment plant, spoke personally with treatment employees, held a special town hall event to hear from members of the public and invited experts, and solicited public comment for more than 90 days.
The city has now joined a growing list of over 300 communities that have rejected or ended fluoridation since 2010, many with the help of FAN, our professional contacts, campaign guidance, and educational materials. Branson is home to 13,000 residents, but it also serves as an entertainment hub for the state and a tourist destination that attracts an estimated 9 million visitors annually.
According to the city’s Director of Utilities, Kendall Powell, Branson was paying $25,000 per year to purchase fluorosilicic acid, a hazardous waste product collected in the pollution scrubber systems of phosphate fertilizer plants. Powell said that disposal of the chemical would require a hazmat team and a hazardous waste disposal fee that would be more expensive than the chemical itself. He also noted at a special meeting that the city paid roughly $1,000 annually for personal protective equipment for water treatment employees due to the extreme danger the chemical posed to those tasked with handling it.
The issue of whether to continue fluoridation was first raised by the alderman in June, when they decided to hold a special hearing and invite medical experts to provide testimony. City staff reached out to the Fluoride Action Network, and one of our board members, Dr. Bill Osmunson, who has nearly 50 years of experience as a practicing dentist, volunteered to present.