Fluoride Action Network

Council must treat fluoride issue with care

Source: The Times Herald | March 14th, 2008
Location: United States, Michigan

Given the importance of water to Port Huron, talking about it is pretty much routine. Discussing the treatment of the city’s drinking water is a new topic, however, and one that demands careful consideration.

Port Huron has used fluoride in its drinking water since 1974. In fact, many cities in Michigan and the nation routinely use the chemical for the same purpose.

Members of the Port Huron City Council, however, are having second thoughts. They voted Monday to suspend additional purchases of the chemical. They also scheduled an April 14 meeting about whether fluoridation should to continue.

This isn’t about health concerns — not yet, anyway. For, now the future of fluoride treatments is about money. The city government’s coffers are running short, and eliminating the $15,000 a year spent on fluoride could be another way to save money.

“We have to make cuts,” Mayor Brian Moeller said, after learning the state and federal governments don’t require cities to fluoridate their drinking water.

“Some mandatory things you can’t cut. Some discretionary things you can.”

A $15,000 savings is one thing. Before the council goes any further, however, there is good reason to pay careful attention to the public health factors regarding fluoridation.

The treatment has its defenders and detractors. Port Huron pediatric dentist Dr. Douglas Baribeau believes fluoridating the city’s drinking water has promoted healthier teeth among children. In fact, Baribeau wants to see more fluoride added to city drinking water.

On the other hand, Mayor Pro-Tem Jim Fisher is a critic.

“There’s a fairly large body of scientists that believe it’s not good for your health,” Fisher said.

The January edition of Scientific American seems to back him up. It reported some studies suggest too much fluoride can increase health risks of the teeth, bones, brain and thyroid.

City officials should weigh both sides of the fluoridation argument and then make a determination that goes beyond the need to save a relatively small amount of money.