The debate over fluoridation of municipal water continues.
Warren City Manager Jim Nelles had informed city council at its April meeting that the other municipalities which use the water supply would have to show interest in the addition of fluoride to pursue the issue.
Those municipalities being Conewango, Glade, Mead and Pleasant Townships.
“The four all voted unanimously not to participate in putting fluoride in the water supply,” Nelles told the council this week.
On the other side, local dentists sent correspondence to the city reflecting a favorable opinion about adding fluoride to the water.
“What we have is a mixed bag.” said Mayor Mark Philips.
Of the correspondence received from the four townships, only one cited a reason.
In the letter from the Conewango Township, signed by secretary Chuck Barone, the township states, “The Board feels that fluoride is a known cancer causing chemical and the availability of fluoridation pills for those who want them are available at a very low cost.”
As for the other townships, no reason was submitted.
“I’m not seeing a reason for rejection…by the townships. I’m wondering if they had as much information as necessary to make an informed decision” said council member Dr. Howard Ferguson.
The council received positive support for fluoride from Dr. James Doyle, Dr. Douglas Walters, Dr. Peter Hoffman, Dr. Paul Boger and Warren Dental Arts.
Hoffman said in his letter that he endorses and supports water fluoridation as it is the position the American Dental Association takes. In information Hoffman provided to the council, fluoride is cited as “nature’s cavity fighter.” It also stated that fluoride “benefits everyone especially those without access to regular dental care.”
Boger wrote, “Fluoride is well researched and proven in its benefits in preventing tooth decay.”
Walters was more to the point on the issue. He wrote, “Failure to fluoridate our water supplies has resulted in needless costs, pain, disfigurement and emotional trauma to the children and adults of Warren.”
A possible road block for the addition of fluoride to the water is the price.
“There is cost involved,” Nelles said.
“We were curious when we got these (letters) if they were presuming some sort of cost element,” Philips said.
The fluoride debate began at the March City Council meeting, when concerned resident Angie Dart asked the council to pursue the issue.
The matter was discussed again at the April meeting. Council member John Lewis suggested that an informational forum be set up for the benefit of the decision makers.
Nelles then indicated that all the municipalities which use the water supply would have to show an interest in the idea. So, the municipalities were contacted.
However, the issue is not dead.
Ferguson asked Nelles to research the cost aspect of the project and provide that information to the townships.
“I would think that we need to at least take a second look at this and try to assess the actual cost,” Ferguson said.
Dart attended Monday’s meeting and was left speechless by the municipalities’ fluoridation veto.
“I’m shocked that the townships would not participate and not state a reason in their letter,” she said.
Dart said water fluoridation is a way of life in metropolitan areas. She saw cost as the only drawback of the concept.
“This is a little hard to gauge as far as the public,” Nelles said. Since March, the city has only received one email from the public regarding water fluoridation, he said.