KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A group of East Tennesseans is pushing to stop fluoride from being added to the water supply. The substance has for decades been added into tap water to support better dental health.
Along the way, there’s been an undercurrent of people worried the practice poses a risk. East Tennessee Medical Freedom Alliance is worried about the long-term health risks. The group also advocates against vaccines, but wants a choice on consuming fluoride.
“We do not use fluoridated toothpaste in our house and we have perfect teeth,” said Ashley Graham-Smith.
That substance and her little one’s teeth are what this young mom is worried about, so the family filters their water to remove fluoride.
“It seemed odd. Why would this be added to the water? And I’m someone who’s always asking questions. I need to know why,” said Graham-Smith, who is with East Tennessee Medical Freedom Alliance.
It’s that question the group is now posing to Knoxville’s water districts. Members plan on presenting research at KUB meetings and collecting signatures against this element.
“I think that it should be our choice whether or not that we ingest it in our water,” said Graham-Smith.
KUB says fluoride is not naturally present in our water source.
“We add fluoride to the water at 0.7 parts per million. Fluoride is regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. That is the recommended level,” said Debbie Ailey with KUB.
Scientists test the quality and levels a number of times during the day, every day.
“[Fluoride] is a manufactured product. It is not a waste. It is not a byproduct,” said Ailey.
When fluoride gets too high, Ailey says a public notice is sent to homeowners.
“We’ve been meeting the federal and state standards for drinking water in our system for many years,” she said.
Graham-Smith hopes other families start asking questions like she has.
“It’s important to me to limit their exposure as much as I can. As a mother, we protect our children. That is the most important thing.”
If you have questions about what’s in your water or about fluoride, KUB or your water district, encourages you to reach out to them and learn more.
The CDC calls fluoridation one of the top 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century and notes that it is recommended by nearly all public health, medical, and dental organizations.
There have been similar anti-fluoride efforts around the area. South Blount Utility District faced protests and a lawsuit, but decided to keep fluoride. The issue also came up in Oliver Springs. In Middle Tennessee, the city of Columbia removed fluoride from its water in 2013.