Officials in charge of voting to keep or remove fluoride from Columbia’s water showed no sway toward one direction or the other at a meeting Wednesday.

For the first 20 minutes of the meeting, the Columbia Power and Water Systems Board of Public Utilities allowed attendees to voice their opinions on fluoridation. Chairman John Collier then said the board would take the information into consideration before voting on the subject next week.

“Certainly the board will look at both the pros and cons, and we’ll make a decision,” Collier said.

A variety of citizen opinions were represented at the meeting, including those from local dentists, neighboring city water officials and an anti-fluoridation group.

Spring Hill Water Plant Superintendent Caryl Giles said removing fluoride from that city’s water has had a positive effect because it is dangerous for employees to handle. She added the chemical is not hazardous when consumed in water.

“I’m pro-fluoride. For children under 8 years old, I’m pro-fluoride,” Giles said. “However, I’m also pro-choice for people, that once it goes in, they don’t have a choice to take it out. It’s very expensive to take it out.”

Registered nurse Karyn French echoed the argument of choice, saying that people should be able to buy products containing fluoride instead of being forced to drink it.

French said she has developed thyroid disease from consuming too much fluoride through water and medicine and has since filtered her water to remove the chemical.

“My concern is that fluoride is not a nutrient, but you are putting it in our water,” French told the board.

Fluoride Action Network representative Jack Cook gave board members a presentation listing the organization’s top reasons why fluoride should be removed from a community’s water.

The organization uses studies from the same sources health professionals quote, such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Dental Association, to prove fluoride needs to be removed, he said.

Local resident Elizabeth Cook disagreed on how organizations against fluoridation present information from the studies and said the organizations often pull a statement that doesn’t represent the overall findings.

“They take a statement out of it, like someone would take a statement out of the Bible, and twist it around,” she said.

Columbia resident Larry Brewer didn’t need studies to show the effects of fluoride. He and his brothers grew up drinking well water, he said, and while he began drinking water with fluoride, his siblings didn’t. Each of them now have missing teeth.

Brewer is a grandparent and asked the board to keep fluoride in the water for his family, at least until other cities larger than Columbia make a decision to remove it. As of now, he said, only smaller cities are making that choice.

“For my grandchildren, for the young people in this area, I beg you to leave the fluoride in until Murfressboro, Nashville, Williamson County, some other large metropolitan areas takes it out. Let’s not follow the small, controlled groups and do it here in Maury County,” Brewer said.

The board will vote on the use of fluoride at its Sept. 25 meeting, which will take place at 3:30 p.m. in the conference room at 201 Pickens Lane.