BOLIVAR PENINSULA — Bolivar Peninsula officials will decide next week whether or not to add fluoride to the public water supply.
The Bolivar Peninsula Special Utilities District will have a public meeting and presentation on water fluoridation before making the decision.
Fluoride is a substance that strengthens tooth enamel.
Out of the 20 water suppliers in Galveston County, only three do not fluoridate, said Jennifer McKnight, the district general manager.
The peninsula’s supplier is one of those three.
Until two years ago, the water supply was a well that had degraded, lowering the quality of the drinking water.
Many residents bought bottled water or used home filters to improve the taste, McKnight said.
Since a new source of surface water was found in 2005, more people have started drinking out of the tap, she said.
McKnight thinks that now is a good time to improve the water.
“We’ve done a lot of background research on it and it’s really good for kids, especially,” she said. “Research shows that fluoridation reduces dental cavities by up to 70 percent for kids and up to 40 percent for adults.”
McKnight is confident there are no negative effects from fluoridation.
“There are some political objections,” she said. “Some feel it’s mandating a preventative treatment without consent, but most of all the negative arguments are political, not health-related.”
Bob Roesch, a dentist and member of the Academy of General Dentistry, agreed that fluoridation is a good thing.
“There are no negative effects,” he said. “There is a cost attached, but it’s still the most cost-effective way of delivering fluoride to the population.”
Roesch practices dentistry in Fremont, Neb.
The town decided to fluoridate its water supply in 1995 when Roesch was the county dental health consultant.
McKnight said the cost would be about 50 cents per resident per year.
“The last time I had a tooth filled, it cost about $88,” she said. “I’d be more willing to pay 50 cents a year than $88 a filling.”
Fluoride is naturally present in all water supplies, Roesch said. The goal of public water fluoridation is to bring it to its optimum level, between 0.7 and 1.2 milligrams per liter.
Fluoride may pose a health risk if consumed in large quantities, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
People who consume water with fluoride levels of 4 milligrams per liter or more are at an increased risk for bone fractures, according to a 2006 report by the National Research Council.
The same report said that water with 2 milligrams of fluoride per liter or more may put children 8 years old and younger at a higher risk for enamel fluorosis, which causes discolored, pitted teeth.
The peninsula’s supply naturally has 0.1 milligrams per liter of fluoride, a number McKnight said would be increased to 0.8 to comply with Environmental Protection Agency standards.
She said the installation of a fluoride tank would pose no environmental threat, as it would be sealed so any fluoride spills would be contained.
WHAT: Presentation on water fluoridation
WHEN: 6 p.m. Tuesday
WHERE: 1840 state Highway 87 in Crystal Beach