Park Hills city leaders are looking into the possibility of putting an end to its practice of adding fluoride to the town’s drinking water system.
Members of the Park Hills City Council discussed the topic during a recent work session.
City Administrator Matt Whitwell said he asked council members at the meeting if anyone was opposed to the idea of looking into the issue. Whitwell said no one seemed to be against it.
He noted that the city’s investigation into the matter is extremely preliminary, adding that area residents will be given the opportunity to share their opinions on the issue at a public hearing before any decisions are made.
“People would be able to voice concerns on both ends,” he said. “It’s not set in stone that it will be eliminated from the system.”
The public hearing tentatively has been set for July 14. It would take place at the start of the evening’s regular council session.
Whitwell said city leaders will make sure data on the topic of fluoride being added to public drinking water systems is made available to area residents prior to the hearing, “so everybody is as informed as possible.”
As the date for the public hearing approaches, anyone who is unable to attend will be given the chance to share their thoughts on the matter in writing, he said.
The state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) sets the standards for public drinking water systems. Right now, the state maximum for allowable fluoride levels is four parts per million, Whitwell said.
The amount of fluoride in the city’s water supply currently tests at one part per million, he said. The figure takes into account the fluoride the city adds to the system.
If the city were to stop injecting the substance into the town’s water supply, the expectation is that fluoride levels would drop to between roughly 0.2 and 0.5 parts per million, Whitwell said.
“There are levels of fluoride that are naturally occurring,” he said. “Elimination of the injection of fluoride into the system does not mean there will be none at all.”
Whitwell said if the city decides to stop adding fluoride to the system, the levels of fluoride in city drinking water still would fall within state requirements. He noted that public water supply systems do not receive violation notices from the DNR unless the water supply contains excess levels of fluoride.
This issue arose due to discussions at the state level about the possibility of reducing recommendations for fluoride in drinking water. He said studies have shown that too much fluoride can cause tooth discoloration and that fluoride is available through many other sources including toothpaste and mouth rinses.
“The most recent studies are saying too much fluoride can actually be a bad thing,” he said.
A decision to stop adding fluoride to the drinking water supply could save the city roughly $18,000 per year “on the low end,” Whitwell said.
He said the financial advantages, however, are not the main concern.
To his knowledge, Park Hills has always injected fluoride into the drinking water supply.