Nearly a quarter-century after fluoride was removed from Jersey City’s drinking water, lawmakers want to put it back.
The City Council this week unanimously passed a resolution urging the Municipal Utilities Authority to fluoridate the water. The resolution states that research has shown fluoridation to be effective in reducing tooth decay and notes endorsement of its use by the American Dental Association.
The resolution also states that Jersey City quit fluoridating its water 24 years ago “because of perceived health threats that are not supported by conventional wisdom of the day.”
A spokesman for Mayor Glenn D. Cunningham said more study is warranted.
“The council is interested, therefore the administration is interested. But we need to do some research on the issue,” said the spokesman, Stan H. Eason. “It is a hotly debated topic across the world and clearly something we can afford to get feedback on from the public before making any final decisions.”
Jersey City’s water had been fluoridated for only four years before the decision was made to stop in 1978, following a change of municipal administrations and a public referendum. Opponents of fluoridation argued at the time that it causes other ailments, including cancer and birth defects.
No other municipality in Hudson has fluoridated water.
Councilman Jerramiah Healy, who sponsored the resolution, said it was largely at the urging of his wife, Maureen, who has been advocating for a resumption of fluoridation for many years, since she did a research paper on the subject while pursuing a degree in nursing.
Healy said he has been talking with his council colleagues about it since shortly after taking office last year.
“It brings Jersey City back into the 1960s,” he said. “All the conventional wisdom on dental health and dental hygiene is that we should have fluoride in the water.”
He said the city’s decision to discontinue fluoridation was “based on a bunch of misinformation.”
Council President L. Harvey Smith said the council has asked the MUA to prepare a cost projection for fluoridation.