FELLSMERE — Ask the Indian River County Health Department, and you’ll hear that fluoridating the local drinking water is an important component of public health. Other groups, though, campaign against adding fluoride, arguing it does nothing more than introduce unnecessary chemicals to your body.
A decision whether to keep it or scrap it might come next week. The City Council will hear both sides of the argument when it meets Thursday.
The debate was triggered by City Manager Jason Nunemaker, who proposed eliminating fluoride from the local drinking water to save about $5,000 a year.
Fellsmere was able to begin fluoridating its water five years ago after it received a grant to cover the cost. That grant money now has expired.
“I am happy to take the council’s direction,” Nunemaker said. “But the grant agency said we could discontinue the service after five years, and I thought maybe this was a way to save some money.”
His suggestion was met with immediate pushback.
Local health organizations protested the move, with the Indian River County Health Department, Treasure Coast Community Health and American Fluoridation Society pressing the city to keep the program. Vero Beach and Indian River County also add fluoride to their water.
“One of the greatest needs in this community is for dentistry,” said Health Department Administrator Miranda Hawker. “It is a priority in the community health-needs assessment, and we don’t want the fluoridation to stop.”
The Centers for Disease Control considers water fluoridation the most cost-effective method of delivering fluoride to all, leading to a reduction in tooth decay by 25 percent in children and adults. Moreover, tooth decay still is one of the most chronic dental issues among children, something dentists from Treasure Coast Community Health and the Florida Department of Health see all the time, health advocates said.
Dr. Johnny Johnson, president of the American Fluoridation Society, also addressed the City Council, urging members to keep fluoride in the water to protect the teeth of families in the community.
“There are no adverse health effects,” Johnson said. “Fluoride is effective in reducing the number of cavities in children and adults.”
But other groups, including the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, have over the years cited safety and adverse health effects from the ingestion of the chemical.
In the organization’s research, it’s made several preliminary determinations over the past 18 years, “each concluding that fluoride added to the public water supply, or prescribed as controlled-dose supplements, delivers no discernible health benefit and causes a higher incidence of adverse health effects,” the academy has said in a position paper.
With all the varying opinion on fluoride, Mayor Joel Tyson said he’s willing to listen to anyone who attends Thursday’s meeting. It’s been moved up an hour earlier, to 6 p.m., to allow more time for debate.
• Original article online at http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/shaping-our-future/2017/03/31/0401-sof-fluoride/99871604/