Nebraska communities with at least 1,000 residents now are required to provide drinking water with fluoride, or opt out by ballot vote, as a result of Nebraska lawmakers’ approval of LB 245 in their last session.
Most of Nebraska’s population is served by public water systems that either have enough naturally occurring fluoride or already add fluoride to water. But 64 communities with more than 1,000 people don’t add fluoride, or don’t have enough naturally occurring fluoride to meet standards. (Add community name here) is one of those communities.
Fluoride is reported to be the single most effective measure to prevent tooth decay. Medicaid dental programs cost as much as 50 percent less in fluoridated communities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and every dollar spent on fluoridation saves $38 in dental costs. However, as with many substances, the health effects of fluoride in drinking water are related to the level present. While fluoride at optimum levels can be beneficial, excessive fluoride can be harmful. The U.S. Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Dental Association recommend an optimum fluoride level of about 1 milligram per liter. The Nebraska legislation requires fluoride in drinking water at the optimum level in order to maximize potential dental benefits while minimizing or eliminating potential risks. Fluoridation of drinking water can be controversial. Courts have established that fluoridation is not an unconstitutional invasion of individual rights, and that the health and welfare of the public generally overrides individual objections to regulation.
The new Nebraska law does give Nebraska communities the option of opting out of the requirements. Communities that don’t now have enough naturally occurring fluoride or fluoridate their water could vote before June 1, 2010, to opt out. Many cities have voted on fluoridation in the past. Those that have opted out in the past would have to vote again to keep from adding fluoride.
The addition of fluoride will require a public water system to add and maintain fluoride injection equipment in an appropriate building near each point of entry to the water system. A point of entry is where the water from at least one well or treatment plant is connected to the distribution system. The costs of adding fluoride to a public water supply are highly dependent upon the specific situation for each system. Generally the relative cost of adding fluoride to a water system will be greater if a system has many points of entry, must add buildings to house the fluoride supply equipment, and/or must hire additional staff to operate the fluoride feed system.
Fluoride, a naturally occurring element, exists in combination with other elements as a fluoride compound and is found as a constituent of minerals in rocks and soil. When water passes through and over the soil and rock formations containing fluoride it dissolves these compounds, resulting in the small amounts of soluble fluoride present in virtually all water sources.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension has more information available in its publication, “Fluoride in Drinking Water”, which is available at (http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/live/g1376/build/g1376.pdf) You may obtain a hard copy of the Neb Guide by contacting the University of Nebraska Extension in Cuming County or by calling 402/372-6006. The Neb Guide is available from Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department, in Wisner. The Neb Guide “Fluoride in Drinking Water” is a non-biased research based publication which contains the latest information as it was updated and released in August 2008.
It is important for everyone in Wisner to take time to educate themselves on fluoride in drinking water. Once you have researched the topc, you can cast an educated vote on the issue. Another step in the education is the wording on the ballot in order that you vote the way you intend.
Below is the wording as it will appear on the ballot.
Shall the City of Wisner adopt an ordinance to prohibit the addition of fluoride to the City’s water system?
____ Yes (To prohibit fluoride for the water system)
____ No (Against the prohibition of fluoride from the water system) This will allow fluoride to be added to the City of Wisner water system.
-30- SOURCE: Debra E. Schroeder, Extension Educator