The Hohenwald City Commission voted to remove fluoride from their water system, becoming the second city in the past month to make this decision.
Hohenwald followed the lead of Spring Hill, which voted last August to remove the chemical compound from the water supply. The Hohenwald City Commission passed the vote unanimously on Sept. 6.
City Recorder Mark Graves said there were several reasons the commission decided on removal.
First, the city will save about $9,000 annually. The second factor was the questionable health benefits of adding fluoride into public water systems, Graves said.
“It (fluoride) is only added for aesthetic purposes and not health-related purposes,” he said. “It has nothing to do with the actual disinfection of the water.”
Lastly, Graves said fluoride’s addition into the water supply raised some ethical concerns for the city commission. The question came up whether the city has the right to medicate the general public without their consent, he said.
“There were several people in our community, including doctors, that were in favor of taking the fluoride out of the water,” he said. “Once (those factors were) taken into account, it was an easy decision.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has hailed the fluoridation of drinking water as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century because of its effectiveness in helping prevent tooth decay.
In January, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommended lowering the level of fluoride in drinking water for the first time in 50 years, primarily to stem an increase in dental fluorosis — a condition that can cause spotting and streaking on children’s teeth.
There are three types of fluoride additives introduced into public water syste ms. The Hohenwald water sys tem adds fluorosilicic acid, a water-based solution most systems use, according to the CDC. Most of the additives are produced from phosphorite, a rock used in the production of phosphate fertilizer.
Putting fluoride into water systems was popularized in the 1940s when Grand Rapids, Mich., added it to their city water supply.
As of 2008, 91 percent of Tennesseans receive water that is fluoridated, compared to the national average of 72 percent, according to the CDC. Tennessee ranks 12th in the nation in fluoridation percentage.