The long-dormant issue of fluoridating Brattleboro’s water has been pushed to the forefront with a healthy shove last week from Gov. Howard Dean.
Brattleboro recently applied for a $300,000 state grant to establish a free dental clinic for children, but selectmen said they hoped that Dean’s comments had nothing to do with the grant application.
The notion of fluoridating the local water supply, which advocates say is good for children’s teeth, had been dormant since the 1970s until Dean suggested it on a swing through town last week.
Dean cited the fact that Brattleboro children have a relatively high rate of cavities, compared with Vermont communities that do add the chemical to their water.
Public Works Director Steve Barrett said that the last time fluoridation was on the public radar was in 1974, when Brattleboro town meeting was supposed to decide whether to have a special town meeting on the issue later in the year.
“I believe it didn’t even make it to the special town meeting,” Barrett
Since then, the issue has been dormant, until the governor gave it a big shove.
Barrett said the issue was discussed in 1989 when the town built its
filtration plant, but there was no big push to fluoridate the water then.
Just in the past year, Barrett said, he had been contacted by three new residents who expressed concern that the water was fluoridated since they were allergic to the chemical.
At the same time, two new residents had contacted him, asking him why the water wasn’t fluoridated.
Since the public water supply is free from fluoridation, the public schools offer fluoride tablets to all children through Grade 6, Barrett said. About 200 out of 270 kids take part.