Hardin has joined the growing number of municipalities taking action against fluoridating its water. The Hardin City Council passed a motion Tuesday night [July 28] reaffirming its stance to keep the town’s water supply free of fluoride.
The discontinuation was unanimously approved following local resident Corey Kenney’s presentation of concerns. Kenney, an opponent of water fluoridation, believes the chemical additive to be hazardous to public health.
“About seven years ago, when I first Googled fluoride being added into our drinking water, I presented articles [to the city council] about fluoride treatment,” Kenney said. “And a couple of years ago, I gave similar information about the overwhelmingly negative research on water fluoridation. With three dams and no industry above us, we have some of the most pristine municipal water in America, so why would we willingly add fluoride? [It is] an industrial waste by-product of aluminum manufacturers.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fluoride is an effective way to prevent tooth decay.
“Fluoride’s action in preventing tooth decay benefits both children and adults throughout their lives,” the CDC website states. “The health benefits of fluoride include fewer and less severe cavities, less need for fillings and tooth extractions and less pain associated with tooth decay.”
Fluoride works by stopping or even reversing the tooth decay process, keeping tooth enamel strong and solid.
Certain oral bacteria cause tooth decay. For example, when a person eats sugar and other refined carbohydrates, these bacteria produce acid that removes minerals from the tooth’s surface. Fluoride helps to re-mineralize tooth surfaces and prevents cavities from forming.
Almost all water contains some naturally occurring fluoride, but usually at levels too low to prevent tooth decay. Early proponents of fluoride encouraged many communities to adjust the fluoride concentration in the water supply to an “optimal level” in efforts to reduce tooth decay and promote oral health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even named fluoridation of drinking water to prevent tooth decay as one of “Ten Great Public Health Interventions of the 20th Century.”
Fluoridation began in the 1950s and, even then, the public frequently objected.
Controversies included disputes over benefits of fluoridation, the strength of evidence for these benefits, the difficulty of identifying harm, legal issues over whether water fluoride is a medicine and the ethics of mass intervention.
The safety and effectiveness of community water fluoridation have been thoroughly reviewed by multinational scientific and public health organizations, including the World Health Organization. Still, opponents disagree.
“The natural fluoride in our water supply is nearly impossible to remove and is a natural mineral from the mountains above Hardin – that we have to live with,” said Kenney. “But adding an industrial waste poison to our water supply is wrong in so many ways. Please, let’s not continue to quite literally poison the public.”
Experts have analyzed the findings and quality of available evidence, and concluded that there is no association between water fluoridation and any unwanted health effects other than dental fluorosis.
Fluoridation has been the subject of many court cases, where activists have sued municipalities asserting that their rights to consent to medical treatment and due process are infringed by mandatory water fluoridation.
In most cases, the courts have held in favor of cities, finding no or only a tenuous connection between health problems and water fluoridation.
To date, no federal appellate court or state court has found water fluoridation to be unlawful.
According to Hardin’s Superintendent of Public Works Russell Dill, the primary reason for discontinuing the chemical additive is due to the current fluoridation system utilizing 1980s equipment. Upgrading to a modern fluoridation system, he added, would be a significant expenditure to the city.