Park Hills City Council members held a work session Tuesday in which they approved maintenance to city water tanks, heard about water fluoridation from representatives of the local dental practice Upward Smiles, and discussed several other matters.
The session began with a delegation from Upward Smiles speaking to the council about the benefits of adding fluoride to Park Hills’ drinking water.
Upward Smile CEO Sherry Cauley, accompanied by Dr. Megan Scott and Dr. Tonya Long, was invited to address council members as they discussed whether to refrain from adding fluoride.
The primary argument for ending the practice has been cost savings. Ending the practice could save the city $20,000-$25,000 per year. Park Hills is the only municipality in St. Francois County that adds fluoride to its water.
Cauley said the benefits of public fluoride are especially seen in children.
“Water fluoridation is the most efficient way to prevent one of the most common childhood diseases, and that’s tooth decay,” Cauley explained.
She said when she and her team at the dental practice educate patients and parents in Park Hills, they tell them how lucky they are to live in a city that practices water fluoridation.
City Administrator Mark McFarland said the council has been weighing its advantages and disadvantages.
He said one of fluoride’s disadvantages is that the chemical is toxic and requires special handling. He said the city would need to upgrade the area in which hazardous materials are stored, and the cost of the upgrades are not yet known.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) requires that the city provide the public with a 90-day notice before making any decision on the matter. The notice has been posted on the city’s website [also listed at the end] and outgoing water bills. The 90-day notice allows the public to provide the city with feedback and opinions on the removal, or continued use, of fluoride in the water.
The council moved on to…