The city’s Fluoride Task Force is finalizing its research of fluoride’s impact on water.
The task force, a group comprised of Mount Pleasant residents, hopes to release its findings to the City Commission by the end of April, said Commissioner and FTF chairwoman Kathy Ling.
The group was created to research the safety of city water fluoridation, she said.
“This is very important,” Ling said. “The committee is not looking at whether or not fluoride in water is effective.”
Instead, she said, the task force is researching various health and safety issues regarding water fluoridation, such as incidents of over exposure to fluoride.
Concerns include effectiveness and safety regarding water fluoridation, as well as public health, legal and ethical questions.
According to the city’s Aug. 25, 2008 resolution on fluoride, the concern came from a report in March 2006 by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences stating the current Environmental Protection Agency’s ruling of four parts per million for fluoride in drinking water is too high.
Upon passing the resolution, the city reduced the levels of fluoride in drinking water to .7 parts per million and agreed to establish a task force.
The task force has had four meetings so far, Ling said, and began gathering in June.
Fluoride is effective in the prevention of tooth decay because it is applied topically to teeth while drinking water, said Scott McNaught, Central Michigan University biology associate professor and aquatic ecologist.
He said the fluoride found in many toothpastes is up to 1 million times higher than the fluoride in water supplies.
“These two are the best possible way to prevent cavities,” McNaught said.
A common side effect of too much fluoride in children is dental fluorosis, identified by permanent, but harmless, white spots on the teeth, McNaught said.
In 2005, the Center for Disease Control concluded more than 32 percent of American children display symptoms of at least mild dental fluorosis because of fluoride overexposure.
Fluoridation in municipality water became the official policy of the U.S. Public Health Service in 1951.
This came about when certain areas found a correlation between very low cavity rates and naturally high fluoride in ground water, McNaught said.
“Fluoride repels bacteria (from) decay, and attacks food residues on teeth,” McNaught said. “It is clear cut, no argument.”