Residents who for years have been complaining about the City of Alpena’s water management company adding fluoride to the drinking water may not have to argue their viewpoints much longer.
SUEZ has been operating the city’s water/wastewater utility since July, 2008. It has been adding fluoride to the drinking water since the beginning.
Adding fluoride is a local decision and not required by state or federal regulatory agencies. It reduces the incidence of tooth decay, particularly in children; however high doses can lead to dental fluorosis or skeletal fluorosis, which can damage bones and joints.
Officials with SUEZ informed the city this week, that due to the worldwide disruption of the supply chain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is having a difficult time obtaining the dry powder used to fluoridate drinking water. That leaves the city with three choices – seek an alternate supplier, switch to a liquid form of additive, which can be toxic and dangerous to handle, or discontinue fluoridation altogether.
The municipal council appears to be leaning toward ending the use of fluoride. The process requires a hearing to take comments from the public, interaction with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, and a vote by Council. A public hearing could be held as early as December 20, during the municipal council’s next bi-monthly meeting.
It is not known if council might reintroduce fluoride into the water once the supply chain issues clear up. The cost of adding the mineral into the system is approximately $6,900 annually.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), community water fluoridation is recommended by nearly all public health, medical, and dental organizations, including the American Dental Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, US Public Health Service, and World Health Organization.
Because of its contribution to the large decline in cavities in the United States since the 1960s, CDC named community water fluoridation one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.