Fluoride to stay in water for some Blount County utility custome

Fluoride to stay in water for some Blount County utility customers

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The board opted to leave fluoride in the water. The board opted to leave fluoride in the water.
"Our toothpaste tube tells us to spit it out. We're not supposed to be ingesting it," said customer Linda King. "Our toothpaste tube tells us to spit it out. We're not supposed to be ingesting it," said customer Linda King.
"Nearly 50% of preschool age kids have rotting teeth and it's been a lot better since the utility district started adding fluoride," said Dr. Mark Durand. "Nearly 50% of preschool age kids have rotting teeth and it's been a lot better since the utility district started adding fluoride," said Dr. Mark Durand.

By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

MARYVILLE (WATE) - Despite protests by dozens of local resident, fluoride will be staying in the water for some Blount County customers.

The South Blount Utility District made the decision at Tuesday's board meeting based on the results of a survey of county customers.

But some customers who oppose the use of fluoride say the poll wasn't conducted fairly, and they want the product removed from their drinking water.

Addressing the board at the public meeting, some customers spoke out against fluoridated water, saying it causes health problems.

"Our toothpaste tube tells us to spit it out. We're not supposed to be ingesting it," said customer Linda King.

"I should have a right to refuse having this in my water," said customer Dee Ann Martini.

Others argue fluoride is good for public health.

"Nearly 50% of preschool age kids have rotting teeth and it's been a lot better since the utility district started adding fluoride," said Dr. Mark Durand, a local family physician and epidemiologist.

Controversy like this prompted the South Blount Utility District Board to conduct a customer poll.

The results, presented at the meeting, showed more residents were in favor of keeping it.

2,378 voted in favor of fluoride, while 2,294 said they wanted it removed.

Protesters say the poll should be declared null and void for a number of reasons.

"The fact that they had extra ballots to hand out to people. There was no numerical coding on it to verify that it came from the water customers. So how can you audit a ballot initiative like that?" said Martini.

The customers are also taking issue with a letter that was sent out to thousands of customers just weeks before the poll was conducted.

It was signed by Commissioner Ray Evans of the South Blount Utility District Board.

It said, "please vote yes to keep fluoride in our water."

Protesters believe the letter unfairly influenced the poll results.

"He then should have said as a customer of South Blount Utility or as a resident of Louisville, but he should not have used his title. When he did that, he spoke for the utility district as a whole," said King.

Evans says he supports the letter, which he says does not represent the board's opinion on the issue of fluoride.

He says it's simply his own personal view.

"Any statements I've made have been my own personal statements and I stand by them," said Evans, speaking at the meeting.

The board said based on the results of the survey, they will be taking no action, meaning fluoride will stay in the water.

Those who want fluoride gone say they are not giving up.

"Eventually, we will win this issue," said King.

Louisville Mayor Tom Bickers was also at the meeting. He addressed the board, speaking out in support of fluoridated water.

South Blount Utility provides water to more than 14,000 customers.

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