Amazing, isn’t it? After more than a half century of fluoridating water in America — and after a half century of overwhelming scientific evidence pointing to the safety and benefits of fluoridated water — a handful of vocal opponents have kept fluoride out of the drinking water of so many communities.
Including, it appears, Galloway Township and other customers of New Jersey-American Water Co.
Since February, the company has been supplementing its nonfluoridated water with drinking water from Atlantic City, which contains the cavity-fighting fluoride. Atlantic County health officials and local dentists have long recommended that fluoride be added to drinking water. But the reason New Jersey-American would not add fluoride was that the towns it served were not united on the issue — Egg Harbor Township, for example, wanted fluoride while Galloway opposed it.
Now, because of Galloway’s opposition, the company is taking steps to eliminate whatever tiny amounts of fluoride that Atlantic City’s water brought to its water supply.
Sigh. This is an old debate. The Atlantic City Municipal Utilities Authority, which began fluoridating in the 1950s, reopened the issue in the 1980s and again concluded fluoride was safe.
Just last October, a British study pulled together 50 years of research on the safety of adding fluoride to drinking water and found no evidence of harm. The review involved 214 studies and is the most comprehensive since fluoridation was first introduced. It also confirmed that fluoridation reduced tooth decay by about 15 percent.
Yet opponents continually claim fluoridated water is linked to ills that range from cancer to fertility problems. And that vocal minority is quick to petition local officials, who often take the path of least resistance.
“We decided that, if there was a question on the issue, it would be better to err on the side of prudence,” said Galloway Councilwoman Meg Worthington.
In other words, local officials figure they won’t be blamed for what they don’t do. But they should be. They should be supporting fluoridation, not opposing it.