The debate over fluoride in the Arab water supply continues.

The Arab Water Board doesn’t meet until Nov. 24, so it hasn’t voted on whether or not to comply with the Arab City Council’s directive from Nov. 7 to begin fluoridating Arab’s water supply.

However, the board posted a letter on its website last Thursday that contained information to back up its reasoning for removing fluoride from the water on Aug. 1. The letter can be read [here] or on the Tribune’s Facebook page.

Arab Water Works manager Ted Hyatt told Mayor Bob Joslin that nothing would be done until the water board meets Nov. 24.

Attached to the letter was an article from “Scientific World Journal,” discounting the need for adding fluoride to the water. However, the “Journal” is not listed in the 2015 Journal Citation as a scientifically cited publication because of “anomalous references.”

The water board’s letter also cited 11 water companies in the state that voluntarily stopped adding fluoride to their water supply, due, “at least in part, to the conflicting studies regarding the possible negative health impacts of water fluoridation.”

However, Ashley Vice, the fluoridation coordinator for the Bureau of Family Health Services at the Alabama Department of Public Health says that’s not true.

Of the 11 systems the board cited, Vice says her research shows:

  • West Morgan – Ceased fluoridation in 2006 due to building a new plant and not having the money to add new fluoride feeding equipment.
  • Oneonta Utilities Board – Ceased fluoridation in 2007 due to a shortage of available fluoride. They have stated they will consider adding fluoride again.
  • Oxford Water Works – Ceased fluoridation in 2005 due to an increase in fluoride costs. It’s estimated cost to begin fluoridation again is $62,000, but state that it will reconsider resuming fluoridation.
  • Red Bay Water & Gas – Ceased fluoridation in 2005, resumed, and ceased again in 2008 – both times due to decreased availability of fluoride.
  • Winfield Water Works – Ceased fluoridation in 2013 due to cost.
  • Millbrook Utilities purchases water from Five Star Water, which does fluoridate.
  • Taylor Water System – Ceased in 2007 due to rising cost, has stated it will reconsider resuming fluoridation.
  • Leeds Water Works Board – Ceased fluoridation in 2009 due to shortage of supply.“So, as you can see, the picture that (Arab Water Board Chairman Rodney Hyatt) paints – that these systems ceased fluoridation because they were concerned about health risks is completely inaccurate as these reasons were reported to us by their water system managers along with their willingness to reconsider and the estimated costs to resume,” Vice said in an e-mail to Dr. Robert Meador, the state dental director for the Alabama Department of Public Health after reading the board’s letter.Hyatt said the board began investigating the fluoride issue in earnest when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services made a change reducing the recommended level of fluoride to add to the water.“When you review the articles and studies we’ve seen, there is clearly a debate about it in the scientific community. We had to ask if we were willing to take the risks of fluoridating the community,” he said.