The city should continue adding fluoride to drinking water produced by city wells to help prevent tooth decay, a health advisory committee will recommend.
Dan Rakers, chairman of the city committee on health and wellness, said the panel Monday night agreed with his intention to draft a report with that conclusion.
However, he said the report also would ask that the city alert residents to a federal health agency’s concerns about using fluoridated water to prepare some types of infant formula.
“I think it was a good compromise,” Rakers said.
The draft report will come up for a vote at the committee’s next meeting in January, he said.
The federal agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, calls fluoridation one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century because of the dramatic decline in tooth decay since the practice began across the nation in the 1940s.
The agency says scientific studies show that exposure at levels used in community fluoridation is safe and doesn’t cause adverse health effects or systemic disorders.
Critics such as the Fluoride Action Network cite other research they say indicates that fluoride may lead to thyroid, arthritic and fertility problems and other issues. One St. Peters committee member, Barry Pulley, is the network’s Missouri liaison.
Regarding infant formula, the federal agency earlier this year said mixing powdered or liquid formula concentrate with fluoridated water on a regular basis may increase the chance of a child developing faint white markings on teeth. That would be a very mild form of dental fluorosis.
To lessen the chance, the agency said, parents can use low-fluoride bottled water some of the time to mix infant formula.
Pulley sounded resigned to the committee’s decision.
“We just didn’t come to an agreement” to stop the practice, he said. “I still oppose it.”
He said, though, that letting residents know about the infant formula issue “is a step in the right direction.”
The majority of the St. Peters system’s water comes from the city’s wells.
However, a large percentage – on average about 40 percent – is purchased from St. Louis’ plant on the Missouri River where fluoride would continue to be added no matter what St. Peters did with its well water.
Moreover, about 8 percent of St. Peters is served by Missouri-American Water Co., which like St. Louis adds fluoride. Most of the rest of the St. Louis area also gets fluoridated water.