LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas cities with populations of 5,000 or more would be required to fluoridate their water under a bill that a Senate committee endorsed today.
The Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee also advanced voted advanced a bill that would create a prescription drug registry for controlled narcotics.
The committee sent Senate Bill 359, the fluoridation bill, to the Senate floor on a voice vote.
Fort Smith, Hot Springs and Texarkana are major cities without fluoridated water. El Dorado is preparing to fluoridate its water.
The bill by Sen. David Johnson, D-Little Rock, exempts cities that buy water from outside the state. Texarkana buys water from Bowie County, Texas.
Dr. Robert Mason, a Fort Smith dentist and president of the Arkansas Dental Association, said the group supports the bill.
Mason said 65 years of research and use of dental fluoride have proven it is safe and effective in boosting dental health.
“It can prevent up to 65 percent of tooth decay,” he said.
Sen. Bill Pritchard, R-Elkins, said he’s sold on the benefits of water fluoridation but noted that Fort Smith voters rejected a proposal to fluoridate the city’s water a few years ago.
Mason said dentists probably haven’t been good communicators on the benefits of fluoridating water.
Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View, said she felt so strongly about fluoridation that she added fluoride solution to baby formula when she was pregnant, to ensure her developing child received its benefits.
One member of the public spoke against the bill. Joe Walls, a former operator in a Hot Spring County water district, said he was debilitated in a fluoride accident.
Walls said people wanting benefits of fluoridation can buy fluoride solution and add it to their water.
An analysis of drinking water in Bauxite by the Aluminum Company of America in 1931 was crucial to the later conclusion that fluoride promotes healthy teeth, according to the website of the National Institutes of Health…