Fluoride Action Network

Brewster to discuss adding fluoride to water

Source: Cape Cod Times | Staff Writer
Posted on February 11th, 2000

BREWSTER – The opening round of what is sure to be a hot debate about the merits of adding fluoride to the town’s water system will start at 7 p.m. Tuesday in town hall. The informational meeting was scheduled by the Brewster Board of Health to review the town’s options on fluoride. Representatives from the state Department of Public Health will attend the meeting, along with dental professionals who encourage the use of fluoride. The Department of Public Health also supports the addition of fluoride to water supplies. “I hope people take advantage of this, ask questions and find out,” said Doris Franzago, chairwoman of the local health board.

Water Department Superintendent Paul Hicks also encourages people to attend. He said about 92 percent of the town’s 9,400 residents use town water.

Stetson Hall, director of the Barnstable County Heath and Environment Department, said he believes there are no towns on the Cape that treat public water systems with fluoride. Inside the Massachusetts Military Reservation, public water is treated with fluoride.

Advocates maintain fluoride in drinking water helps protect against cavities, particularly in young children. Skeptics counter that fluoride is already available in many products, including toothpaste, and used by schools and dentists on a regular basis as a preventive measure to protect teeth.

Last spring, at the request of the board, the state conducted a free feasibility study on adding fluoride to the town’s water system. That study concluded that a concentration of fluoride at 1 part per million could be added to water at the town pumping stations.

Under a state grant, the $40,000 in equipment, as well as the first year of the fluoride chemical, would be free. Subsequent costs are estimated at between $10,000 and $11,000 a year for maintenance and chemical supplies. Hicks said he felt there were already enough chemicals added to the town’s water to control acid and ensure cleanliness and that another chemical wasn’t needed.

“The water is enough of a chemical soup without adding more,” he said. He also noted that while every gallon of water would have to be treated with fluoride, only a tiny percentage of the water used in each household gets into someone’s mouth.

“I don’t think it’s practical, given the requirements and benefits, and all the products with fluoride now available,” Hicks said. Brewster Health Agent Nancy Ellis Ice said the local board has not voted on a position, but hopes to get a sense of community opinion in a nonbinding, townwide ballot referendum this fall. Under state law, local boards of health have the authority to order the water department to add fluoride.