To fluoridate or not to fluoridate – that is the question.
But, what is the right answer?
There are two distinct sides when it comes to the issue of communities fluoridating drinking water.
Some advocates say adding fluoride to drinking water provides a health service that individuals may not receive otherwise.
On the other hand, the process does not give one the choice to not receive fluoride. Those who do not see it as a necessity point to the availability of numerous products containing fluoride should negate the need of adding it to the drinking water.
A public hearing is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. July 28 to gain input from the community on which direction the city should take – should the city continue fluoridating the drinking water or should the council begin to take action stopping the fluoridation process.
In 1945, Grand Rapids, Mich. began adding fluoride to its drinking water supply system – the first in the nation.
Farmington adopted an ordinance to begin the fluoridation of drinking water in 1989.
A 2012 report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showed out of 52,735 Community Water Systems (CWS) – public water systems that supplies water to the same population year-round – 18,502 provided fluoridated drinking water.
Missouri ranks 26th on the percentage of people served by a CWS receiving fluoridated water.
During the administrative services report at the June 23 Farmington City Council meeting, Ward IV Councilman Mark Kellogg said the city was informed by the Deparment of Natural Resources that daily monitoring of the city’s fluoridation system would be required.
“That would be labor-intensive,” Kellogg explained at the meeting, meaning the requirement could mean the city would need to create a part-time position to monitor the 14 active wells for that purpose alone.
Kellogg further stated the DNR and EPA “have no opinion on whether (a city) should fluoridate or not –which is interesting.”
The DNR policy is for cities to daily test monitor the fluoride levels at each injection site – the point where the fluoride is “injected” in the water – instead of taking a sampling of the levels as has been the previous policy.
Public Works Director Larry Lacy said the new policy was put into place around three months ago.
He estimated the additional monitoring could cost the city up to $22,500 for manpower and equipment.
The current EPA maximum contaminant level goal (MCLG) for fluoride is 4.0 mg/L or 4.0 ppm. The 2013 water report from the city showed the city below that range, with 2.79 as the highest reading.
City Administrator Greg Beavers said the public hearing is one part of the decision process for the council.
He also spoke how there are no easy answers to the fluoridation of drinking water.
“There is a lot of discussion around the use of fluoride,” Beavers said. “There are the recommended levels from the EPA and DNR and from the American Dental Association,” adding the city has been compliant with both recommendations.
Beavers added his research on the subject has shown no definitive answer on the whether or not adding fluoride is a benefit.