The days of adding fluoride to Aspen’s drinking water could be coming to an end.
City Council members on Tuesday, convened as the city’s Board of Health, agreed that the government should stop adding the controversial chemical to the water supply in light of new federal guidelines that have lowered the recommended amount of fluoride in drinking water.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Jan. 7 lowered their recommendations to 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water from 1.2 milligrams.
The city of Aspen includes 1.1 milligrams of fluoride for each liter of water.
In the winter, Aspen’s water, which comes from Castle and Maroon creeks, naturally contains 0.5 milligrams of fluoride, so water plant workers add 0.6 milligrams of fluoride per liter. In the summer, 0.2 milligrams of fluoride naturally occur in the city’s water, so officials add 0.9 milligrams.
“I don’t know why we are continuing to add fluoride if we are that close,” Mayor Mick Ireland said. “There is an expense and a hazard involved in adding … a chemical that some people don’t want.”
Aspen, along with many other cities and towns, began adding fluoride to the water supply in the 1960s, as some believe it is beneficial to the development of children’s teeth.
Fluoride opponents say the chemical has numerous harmful effects, such as increasing the risk of bone cancer and hip fractures in women.
City Council members directed staff to bring back an ordinance, to be officially voted on at a later meeting.
Council in 2008 voted to continue adding fluoride to the water, despite recommendations that fluoridation should have ended then.