Denver Water will keep adding fluoride to the metro area’s drinking water supply, despite objections from some.
The utility’s board of directors voted today to continue a policy in place for more than 60 years to fluoridate water as a way to fight tooth decay.
“After careful consideration of the information put forth by both sides of the fluoridation debate, I am convinced that the community water fluoridation level recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service provides substantial health benefits, and is a safe, cost-effective and common sense contribution to the health of the public,” Denver Water Commissioner Greg Austin said in a statement.
Denver Water, which serves 1.3 million people in Denver and some suburbs, said it adds enough fluoride to deliver an average concentration of 0.7 milligrams per liter in its water — the target set by the U.S. Public Health Service — across its service area. Its water already contains some fluoride naturally.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and many other U.S. health authorities have long advocated fluoridation of community water supplies — a step pioneered in Colorado early in the 20th century — as a way to promote dental health, particularly among residents who lack access to dental services.
“The safety and benefits of fluoride are well documented,” says a CDC position paper on the matter. “For 70 years, people in the United States have benefited from drinking water with fluoride, leading to better dental health. Drinking fluoridated water keeps the teeth strong and reduced tooth decay by approximately 25 percent in children and adults. By preventing tooth decay, community water fluoridation has been shown to save money, both for families and the health care system.”
Nevertheless, some advocates have called for Denver Water and other utilities to stop adding fluoride to public water, saying it could have harmful effects or that fluoride use should be left to individuals.
Paul Connett, a retired chemistry professor and director of the Fluoride Action Network, told Colorado Public Radio that adding fluoride to tap water is a “sham,” and cited studies that he said show fluoride can damage bones and cause other health problems. Those studies are “mostly international,” CPR reported.
Denver Water’s board acted after hearing arguments both for an against adding fluoride. Some130 people came to a hearing in the issue July 29. The agency said it received nearly 1,200 comments on the matter.
Aurora Water told KMGH-7News in April that enough fluoride occurs naturally in its drinking water that it does not add additional fluoride.
Snowmass Village earlier this month voted to stop fluoridating its water, according to the Aspen Times.