Fluoride Action Network

City officials say fluoride to be back in Buffalo water by this summer

Buffalo News | Jan 5, 2024 | By Jay Tokasz
Posted on January 5th, 2024
Location: United States, New York

Buffalo Water will restore fluoride to the city’s water supply by the summer, after getting approval this week from the state Health Department.

City officials made the announcement late Friday, two days after area dental experts sharply criticized the long delay in returning the cavity-fighting mineral to the public drinking water of more than 250,000 city residents.

Dentists are exasperated by the fact that Mayor Byron W. Brown’s administration has missed its own deadline for re-fluoridating the water by the end of 2023.

Area dentists at a Common Council meeting Wednesday ripped into city officials for not moving more swiftly to restore fluoride, which has not been added to the drinking water at optimal concentrations since 2015.

Some dentists described the absence of the mineral as a major health inequity for children living in the city who haven’t been getting the tooth-decay preventing benefits of fluoride that are afforded to suburban children.

City water officials said they were beginning to upgrade an outdated fluoride system in 2016 and stopped when the lead water crisis in Flint, Mich., caused many municipal water suppliers to examine their treatment processes. Buffalo Water wanted to study whether the new fluoride system would cause corrosion to the system’s many lead pipes, potentially creating elevated lead levels in the water.

But city officials didn’t alert residents about the lack of fluoride, which is routinely added to public water in nearly 70% of all systems across the country and is widely considered a hugely successful public health initiative.

Many dentists weren’t aware of the change until The News reported in 2023 that the city had stopped adding fluoride. The News report led to a public outcry and a class-action lawsuit against the city for not properly informing the public about the lack of fluoride for eight years.

In response, Mayor Byron W. Brown and water officials said studies of the new fluoride system showed it would not have a corrosive effect on lead pipes. Brown said last January that fluoride would be restored by the end of 2023.

Earlier this week, Buffalo Water Board Chairman Oluwole A. McFoy told The News that the city was still awaiting state approval of its fluoride upgrade plan and declined to estimate how long it would take to complete.

McFoy said in a news release Friday that Buffalo Water submitted its plans to the state Health Department in August and has spent several months in discussions with the department. State health officials notified Buffalo Water on Thursday that their fluoridation plan was approved, according to city officials.

“We will work expeditiously to complete this project, and we are confident that these upgrades will contribute to the overall well-being of Buffalo residents,” McFoy said in a prepared statement.

Buffalo Water officials said they had a “kickoff meeting” on Friday to go ahead with construction on the system to refluoridate the water.

*Original full-text article online at: https://buffalonews.com/news/local/city-officials-say-fluoride-to-be-back-in-buffalo-water-by-this-summer/article_c5c1e172-ac37-11ee-aa27-6be0f486735f.html