EAU CLAIRE, Wis. –– Federal health officials say having a small amount of fluoride in city drinking water is recommended but some local communities have opted out of adding fluoride, and say they have no plans to change that.
The state of Wisconsin does not mandate fluoridation but federal health workers recommend a fluoride level of .07 in drinking water.
Eau Claire County is already at the recommended level but other communities like Chippewa Falls and Altoona are opting out.
For Eau Claire mother Amanda Widdicombe having fluoridated water is important.
Widdicombe said, “Just having a baby and toddler it’s not always easy to get teeth brushed as much as we should. It’s just reassuring to know that their teeth will be cared for even if we’re not as adamant about brushing as we should be.”
So living in Eau Claire County is a benefit says health director Lieske Giese, as the county is currently at the newly recommended federal health level of fluoridated water.
“There is really clear evidence and lots of studies that have been done that the .07 level is very, very safe and really it’s much safer to have that because you are protected than not,” said Giese.
Giese says some people are concerned that something extra is being added to the water, but says fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that exists in water already.
She says while you can get fluoride from toothpaste and mouthwash it’s best to be at a consistent level that is known to be safe and effective.
“You can get fluoride in other ways but getting it at a consistent amount, at a level that’s recommended doesn’t happen from those sources,” explained Giese.
However, according to the Fluoride Action Network, Chippewa Falls is one of only 15 Wisconsin communities that have rejected fluoridation.
Chippewa County public health director Jen Rombalski said, “We do not currently have fluoridated water supplies in Chippewa Falls or other municipalities.”
Rombalski says it’s not what the department recommends.
“Based on the research, public health will always encourage municipalities to consider, and to keep, fluoridation in their water supply,” said Rombalski.
In 2004 Chippewa Falls voted on an advisory referendum to allow fluoride to be added to their water supply but advisory board member Jim Fenno says it didn’t pass.
“They had some very vocal people and well organized people spreading this, in my opinion, false propaganda that fluoridation would cause all these horrific problems and it’s simply not the case,” said Fenno.
Rombalski says in the future she hopes to see the city reconsider the decision.
“It really takes interest and concern from citizens and decision makers in order to have fluoride added to the water supplies,” added Rombalski.
In order for Altoona and Chippewa Falls to add fluoride, their city councils would have to approve it.