WALKER — The 1950s-era debate over fluoridation of municipal water supplies to fight tooth decay flared anew in Walker, where opponents called on the Board of Aldermen on Monday to reconsider an earlier decision to inject the chemical into the town water supply.
After the procession of speakers had addressed the board, Mayor Bobby Font said his office will continue to inform citizens about the fluoride program which, Font said, will start at an undetermined date.
Walker resident Rebecca Inman, who said she had done extensive research on the issue, told the aldermen that fluoride has been linked to numerous potential health problems.
She asserted that fluoride is a toxic substance that can cause kidney impairment, weaken bones, cause discoloration of the teeth and even decrease the intelligence quotient of children.
Another Walker resident, O’Neal Couvillion, also labeled fluoride as a “medicine” and said he doesn’t trust the source of the fluoride that would be injected into the town’s water system.
He said that in addition to fluoride, companies manufacturing the substances that would be put into the water add dangerous other chemicals such as heavy metals that could be a health hazard.
Randy Hayden, of the Healthy Smiles Coalition, a national group that advocates for the use of fluoride in public water sources, commended the town for taking its first steps toward adding the substance to its water.
Lynn Alessi, a fluoridation engineer with the state’s Department of Health and Hospitals, said that under the plan now being devised for the Walker water system, 0.8 parts per million of the chemical would be added to the system.
Alessi said studies have shown that for every $1 spent on fluoridating water, about $35 is eventually saved in dental bills.
The Department of Health and Hospitals, with federal grant money, will bear the cost of installing equipment to add fluoride to the water and will pay for the chemicals for the first six months, he said.
Karissa M. Page, fluoridation community coordinator for the state, asked the aldermen to contact her if they have any questions about the safety of the fluoride programs.
She said she has accumulated a massive amount of data on the subject and said she can rebut any arguments against the use of fluoride in water systems.
The third in a series of public hearings on the issue is scheduled for 6 p.m. today in the Walker Municipal Building, 10136 Florida Blvd.