BREVARD — The water in the city will be different in September as the City Council has decided to remove fluoride additives from the public water supply.
Water fluoridation has been common in municipalities across the country for decades as an inexpensive way to prevent tooth decay, but the process is not without its critics.
In May, Edward Daigle told members of the City Council he had read studies that suggested fluoride might create health problems such as bone decay, memory loss and thyroid problems and that information had recently led him to quit drinking from the public water supply.
Acting on Daigle’s concerns, City Manager Joe Albright looked into the issue and brought information back to the council at their meeting Monday.
“I researched this and found there was a plethora of information and studies about the pros and cons of water fluoridation,” Albright said. “After reviewing the data, I think council felt there was enough uncertainty as it relates to the possible detrimental effects and that’s why they unanimously made the decision to remove fluoride from the city’s water.”
Brevard has been using water fluoridation since 1980 and Hendersonville adopted the practice in 1997.
No longer putting fluoride compounds into the Brevard water supply will result in a $5,000 annual savings, but Councilman Mack McKellar said he is convinced this was the right thing to do.
“It’s a medicine and unless there is a 100 percent conclusive directive from a government agency to put it in the water, I think everybody needs to have a choice if they want to consume it,” McKellar said. “Otherwise, we’re paying money to administer medicine to people without their permission and I’m very uncomfortable in that role. The science we were presented on the issue cut both ways and if it’s a jump ball I say ‘Don’t do it’ because we already have what I consider some of the cleanest drinking water in America.”
Transylvania County Health Department Director Steve Smith said from a public health standpoint, he supported water fluoridation because it helped reduce tooth decay.
“I’ve researched it with the North Carolina Division of Public Health and they as well as I advocate for its use,” Smith said. “I think there is compelling evidence that the benefits far outweigh the risks and I just don’t believe it is a health issue for the vast majority of folks.”
Albright said the city had between a 35-to-40 day fluoride treated water supply left in its reserves and will notify the public via their August water bills of the change, which should go into practice starting September 1, 2007.
Daigle, who has lived in Brevard for a decade, said he was pleased with the council’s response to his concerns.
“I would rather the change be immediate, but I understand they have to use up the water supply they have already treated,” Daigle said Friday. “Until then I will continue to buy my drinking water, but I think they made the right decision.”