MANCHESTER (AP) – Fluoride will be dripping into city water starting this week, but opponents still are trying to freeze the flow.
City voters approved adding fluoride to drinking water by a 700-vote margin last year. After obtaining all the necessary permits and testing the system for glitches, the Manchester Water Works expects to begin adding the tooth-toughener today.
“It is for the health of the community, a wonderful Christmas present,” said Manchester Public Health Director Frederick Rusczek.
According to the American Dental Association, fluoridation especially benefits young children by strengthening their teeth as they are being formed.
But opponents argue that rather than preventing dental decay, fluoride amounts to a slow poison that harms bones and hinders brain development.
“They may temporarily turn that valve on on Tuesday, but we’re seeking to have that valve turned off and eventually broken,” said Lloyd Basinow of Citizens Against Fluoride Exposure.
Basinow said his group plans to seek a court order to stop the fluoride program. The court challenge will focus on surrounding towns whose residents will receive the fluoridated water even though they did not vote in the referendum. Manchester Water Works has customers in Auburn, Bedford, Derry, Goffstown, Hooksett and Londonderry.
Manchester officials said they took great efforts to make the water as safe as possible. Fluoride will be added to city water at a concentration of 1 part per million.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets the maximum safe level of fluoridation at 4 parts per million.
Tom Bowen, director of the city water works, said the city is purchasing a fluoride mixture that is 20 times purer than that recommended by the American Water Works Association. That means lower levels of heavy metals such as lead and arsenic, he said.
“Everybody kind of bent over backwards to meet the needs of those concerned with it,” he said.