NORTH ATTLEBORO — Smile, North Attleboro. Fluoride is back in your drinking water.
But don’t stop brushing your teeth and flossing.
Nearly a year after the town’s water division announced it was no longer adding fluoride to the municipal supply because of a nationwide shortage of the cavity-preventing chemical, the town now has a supply on hand that will last at least a couple of months.
“It should last until February,” Mark Hollowell, department of public works director, said. But after that, it’s an open question. The town’s supplier hasn’t “said they won’t send us any more, but they can’t promise more at the moment,” Hollowell said.
The town resumed treating the water supply again in October and informed the board of health that the process was underway.
Currently, the chemical is only being added at the town’s Whiting Street treatment plant. That means it’s diluted before it reaches most customers.
The new $5.5 million Adamsdale treatment plant — which is designed to both filter out PFAS “forever chemicals” and add fluoride — is supposed to come on line soon, Hollowell said, adding, “We’re doing what we can.”
Once the Adamsdale plant is up and running, the town will be able to add fluoride from both sides of the system, he said, bringing it up to the .5 to .7 parts per million, the recommended dose.
The water department notified residents in November 2021 that a nationwide shortage of sodium fluoride — the chemical added to prevent tooth decay — was forcing the town to suspend treatment.
At least seven other communities across Massachusetts had to stop adding sodium fluoride to their water supplies after running out of the compound, WBUR public radio reported last month.
Not all water systems use sodium fluoride. Attleboro, which also fluoridates its water, uses a different chemical, hydrofluosilicic acid.
Hollowell is hopeful that supply chain woes will improve to ensure the town has an adequate supply for the future.
Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens teeth. It is not required in drinking water for purity or safety, but communities can decide to add it to the supply to improve dental health.
North Attleboro voted to fluoridate its water supply with a 2000 referendum ballot question after a contentious campaign. The question garnered 57 percent support.
*Original full-text article online at: https://www.thesunchronicle.com/news/local_news/after-year-long-hiatus-fluoride-back-in-north-attleboro-drinking-water/article_70932d7a-7b30-5798-ab42-45019f2456e8.html