The Martinsville City Council took no action Tuesday after hearing from about a dozen people on whether the city should continue to put fluoride in its drinking water, and the issue is expected to be raised again during its next meeting.
Communities nationwide have put fluoride, a derivative of the element fluorine, in their drinking water since the mid-1940s to help prevent tooth decay and dental diseases. Martinsville has fluoridated its water since the 1960s.
Those who told the council they want the practice to end cited as one of their chief concerns their desire not to be forced to have what they described as medication put into their drinking water.
Most who spoke to support the practice noted its health benefits, including the prevention of tooth decay.
After hearing from the speakers, Vice Mayor Jennifer Bowles said the council members need time to digest the information. When they meet July 28, a member of the public could raise the issue again. If that doesn’t happen, Councilwoman Sharon Brooks Hodge said she will make a motion that the city stop fluoridating its drinking water.
Roughly 75 percent of people in the United States who are connected to public water supplies have fluoride in their drinking water, according to the American Dental Association, which supports the practice.
Yet studies have indicated that getting too much fluoride could lead to dental and health problems ranging from white spots on teeth to thyroid problems, hyperactivity and brain damage, information online shows.
Martinsville had put 1 milligram per liter of fluoride in its water but earlier this year cut back to 0.7 milligrams after the U.S. Public Health Service suggested that localities reduce their fluoride levels to that amount.