KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The controversy over the use of fluoride in drinking water continues. Several legislators are taking a stand, asking that federal officials not promote or endorse water fluoridation.
Fluoride has been added to drinking water in the U.S. since the 1940s. The goal was to help prevent tooth decay.
“Nowadays we see anywhere form 40 to 70 percent less tooth decay in children than we did before we had the Fluoride in the water,” said Knoxville dentist Dr. Marsha Hickey.
While some dentists say the additive is unquestionably a good thing, state Rep. Frank Nicely (R-Knoxville) and others disagree.
The group wrote a letter to state health officials saying they want to the promotion of water fluoridation stopped.
“All I want them to do is shut up. If the locals want to put it in, fine. If they don’t want to put it in, fine, but I don’t think that state taxpayer dollars ought to be promoting something that is iffy at this point,” Rep. Nicely said.
The federal government also wants to change the amount of fluoride in drinking water because of air conditioning and a change in drinking habits.
The range of .7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter of fluoride will instead likely sit at .7 milligrams.
Rep. Nicely says it is a step in the right direction, but he plans to keep pushing and using legislation because he is concerned about potential health impacts.
“I’m not taking a stand as to whether it’s good for you or not. We know that it’s not good for certain populations, diabetics, kidney patients and infants,” Nicely said.
He also pointed to dental fluorosis which is when brown and white spots appear on the teeth because of too much fluoride.
Dr. Hickey says these are uncommon, extreme cases that can be prevented. “Fluoride like anything else is good in moderation.”
Rep. Nicely says he plans to introduce legislation within the next few days. He also mentioned that he wants a new law that would require water bottle companies to reveal on the label whether fluoride has been added to the products.