EGG HARBOR CITY — City Council will hold a special meeting tonight to discuss the possibility of ending city water fluoridation.
It was originally set for March 5, but was cancelled for snow.
Fluoride is currently added in tiny amounts of about .7 parts per million, Water Department Superintendent Jerry Gleason has said.
It is used to strengthen teeth as they develop in young children, and to help prevent cavities for people of all ages.
Some opponents of water fluoridation say they have seen proof it harms human health, but the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and scores of other medical and dental organizations support the practice.
Some studies have found lowered IQs in children in villages in China and India who have been exposed to high levels of naturally occurring fluoride. But those levels start at more than 10 times the levels in fluoridated water, and there are also other explanations for the neurological defects, said John Bucher, Associate Director of the National Toxicology Program at the National Institutes of Health.
In China, for example, there is also a high level of fluoride in coal that is burned for heat in homes, he said.
Health organizations say fluroide, which is naturally occuring in much of the nation’s water supply, has no medical downside in the proper amounts.
Bucher, who said he gave fluoride supplements in vitamins to his children when they were young because he didn’t live in an area with fluoridated water, said fluoride is known to have a sharp dose response. That means the amount that can be toxic is not very far apart from safe levels, so it is important to carefully control the amount going into the water.
He said the NIH has a draft document, recommending reducing to .7 parts per million the amount used for water fluoridation, because fluoride is in so many dental products today. He said it isn’t because of concerns about health problems, but because of cosmetic problems. Dentists have been reporting more fluorosis of teeth — a cosmetic discoloring caused by slightly elevated fluoride levels.
The current recommendation is for .7 parts per million to 1.2 parts per million.
Gleason has run the city’s water and sewer department more than 23 years, and has said he is the person who suggested the meeting. He’s been overseeing the fluoridation process all that time, and said he is not against it for medical reasons, just for practical ones related to running the plant and preventing waste.
Giving up the addition of fluoride will not save much money. The city spent $2,872 on the chemical last year in the form of hydrofluorosilicic acid, according to Gleason.
Egg Harbor City began fluoridation in the 1950s, when dental products and care were much less sophisticated than they are today.
Egg Harbor City and the Atlantic City Municipal Utilities Authority are the only water providers in our region who fluoridate water.
New Jersey American Water calls itself neutral on the issue, according to a statement on its web site, and has only fluoridated in response to community request.
IF YOU GO:
Egg Harbor City Council special meeting on the possibility of ending water fluoridation from city water, 7 p.m. tonight at the Egg Harbor City Municipal Building, 500 London Avenue, Egg Harbor City.