The Branson Board of Aldermen unanimously voted during Tuesday night's board meeting in favor stopping the fluoridation of water.
The ordinance that passed repealed ordinance 1992-0001 and amended section 90-43 of the Branson municipal code. That part of the code dealt with fluoride in the public water system. This vote came after the aldermen heard from the public and experts who held views opposing and favoring water fluoridation.
Branson's Utilities Director Kendall Powell delivered the staff report detailing the events leading up to Tuesday's vote. "Staff conducted the State of Missouri mandatory public comment period which begun on July 28th, 2023, allowing the public to submit comments in favor of or against fluoridation," Powell said.
The city's utilities director revealed the results of Branson's collecting of public comments. Branson received 69 emails.
"11 were pro fluoride, 55 were against fluoride and 3 did not take a stance but rather asked questions. 19 listed their address as residents of Branson, 3 were non-residents and 47 were unclear if they were residents or representatives of any organizations," Powell said.
People who favored fluoridating the city's water offered public and dental health as their reasoning. Powell also spoke regarding the reasons others were against water fluoridation.
"Those opposed to fluoride cited: The chemical being hazardous waste and toxic, environmental concerns, the opinion that it should be optional and that is unnecessary, and health concerns such as dental and skeletal fluorosis, thyroid problems, neurological damage, cancer, and cognitive
issue," he said. He also revealed the staff's reasoning for recommending ending water fluoridation in the city.
Powell said the recommendation is "due to risk associated with material handling and future equipment replacement cost." Branson Alderman Marshall Howden commented after Powell concluded the report.
He said he takes the matter "pretty seriously." He explained that his view grew stronger after speaking with the people involved in carrying out the fluoridation process.
"When we asked the individuals who administer this how they felt about it, it kind of got a little heavy, to be honest with you mister mayor," Howden said. Those individuals essentially said they want to do the job safely, so they are still around to be with their families.
The alderman also added that the chemical used in the water isn't the element itself, but it's a "byproduct of the pharmaceutical companies." "I cite a lot of the European countries that have removed this from their water systems, I look at other communities around the country that have done so, as well as the water districts that surround Branson. For those reasons, I will be voting for this."
Branson Alderman Clay Cooper described the tour as "very enlightening." He explained that he's indifferent as to whether or not the water has fluoride.
However, he said when he asked the three employees that provided the tour how they would vote if they were in his position, "immediately, all three said remove it" because the danger that comes with working with it.
Cooper explained his reason for voting to remove the fluoride is "purely" because of the danger of working with it. The full meeting is online.