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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, June 20, 2001

New poll adds to debate over fluoridation of Kaua'i's water

By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Kaua'i Bureau

LIHU'E, Kaua'i — A group of Kaua'i residents concerned about children's teeth is launching a campaign to fluoridate the island's water supply. The Kaua'i Dental Health Task Force says most people agree with the idea.

The firm Market Trends Pacific conducted surveys of Kaua'i residents last fall and found that 71 percent feel fluoridation of drinking water is safe and 61 percent would support having a pilot program in their community water supplies. Market Trends President Wanda Kakugawa said the random telephone survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.

The task force has participated in a community meeting with the Board of Water Supply, which also included opponents of fluoridation.

Other polls have shown many people in Hawai'i oppose fluoridation. Those who oppose it argue that fluoridation is unsafe and may have adverse effects on health and that the government shouldn't tamper with the public water supply. The water board said it would not move without an indication of support on the island for the concept.

The task force plans to conduct community meetings to gain support for the issue before returning to the water board to seek a pilot program for fluoridation.

Dentist Stanwood Kanna said the task force will try in its arguments to focus on dental health rather than fluoridation itself.

The group notes that one Kaua'i community, the Navy at the Pacific Missile Range Facility, has had fluoridated water for decades.

Gov. Ben Cayetano has called for fluoridation of Hawai'i's water supply, saying Hawai'i children have one of the worst rates of tooth decay in the country. Every dollar spent on fluoridation saves $80 in future dental expenses, he said.