Cumberland residents cleared the way for the city to add fluoride to their water supply by voting overwhelmingly in favor of repealing a 10-year-old ban on the cavity-fighting chemical.
They voted 2,525 to 1,633 Tuesday to repeal the ban, a margin of 61 percent to 39 percent.
The issue has divided residents for decades in the Western Maryland community of 24,000, one of the state’s few cities without fluoridated drinking water. Officials say fluoride is in 90 percent of Maryland’s public water systems and in those serving about two-thirds of Americans.
Dentists and public health workers went door to door last weekend, armed with new statistics to bolster a five-year-old University of Maryland study that found Western Maryland children had the most cavities of any region in the state.
Fluoridation opponents say the most commonly used fluoridation agent, hydrofluosilicic acid, is an industrial waste with a host of threats, from tooth discoloration to cancer.