The majority of residents in Erie say they would support the town adding fluoride to the town’s water supply, according to a survey.
In the poll, which was sent to residents along with their September water bill, 547 residents replied yes to fluoride, 273 said no and 51 said they had no opinion on the issue or did not know.
“Generally, it was 2-1 in favor of fluoridation,” said Judy Ding, Erie’s public works director.
Fluoridation is the addition of fluoride to drinking water for the purpose of preventing tooth decay in children. Because there is no state or federal regulation that requires fluoridation, it has become a local issue that has caused controversy nationally.
Ding said that of the 3,200 surveys sent out, the town received replies from 27-28 percent. The survey was sent to residents after the Board of Trustees requested public input on the issue.
Those who oppose adding fluoride to the water supply say there already is enough fluoride from fluoridated toothpaste, as well as what naturally occurs in the water and food supply. They also have voiced concerns over the effect of concentrated amounts of the chemical in the body.
Currently, Erie’s water contains about 0.2 milligrams per liter of naturally occurring fluoride. If the Board of trustees elects to fluoridate, the water-treatment facility would increase the fluoride to meet the dosage of 0.9 milligrams per liter recommended by the American Dental Association.
“Since it is not a required chemical to feed, that is what makes it controversial,” Ding said.
The equipment needed for fluoridation would cost the town about $20,000, Ding said. That price does not include what will be spent on security equipment in light of the events on Sept. 11.
“If there is an overdose, it can be a real problem,” Ding said.
Operation and maintenance of the fluoridation process also will cost the town about $7,500 annually and will increase as water production increases, she said.
The survey results were presented at the Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday night. Ding said she is waiting for direction from the Board of Trustees for what the next step in decision-making process will be.