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For the second time in two years, Healdsburg voters appeared to reject a measure to remove fluoride from city drinking water.

With five of five precincts reporting, Measure T was failing early Wednesday, 59 percent to 41 percent.

“I’m pretty ecstatic the citizens got it right again,” said Shawn Widick, a Healdsburg dentists running the No on Measure T campaign. “It’s ridiculous because it’s a public health issue and such a benefit to our community. We shouldn’t have to be dealing with this again.”

It called for a moratorium on adding the substance believed to prevent cavities until the manufacturer could prove the compound was “safe and effective.” The city has been adding fluoride to its water for more than 60 years.

Fluoride opponents lost a similar effort in 2014, when 66 percent of voters said they wanted to keep it.

Critics view the chemical as an unsafe form of mass medication and say it may not work in reducing tooth decay. They claim recent studies show it may cause lower IQs in children, hypothyroidism and some cancers.

But supporters say additives in drinking water have to meet standards for quality and safety, and fluoride conforms to those.

Almost two-thirds of Californians have fluoridated water. And 75 percent of the U.S. population on public water systems — more than 210 million people — had access to fluoridated water in 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC considers fluoridation of drinking water a significant health achievement, due to the dramatic decline in tooth decay across the country.

You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or On Twitter @ppayne.

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