SIDNEY – One may not think that adding fluoride into the public water system would cause such controversy, but implementing this additive is a reoccurring issue that Sidney residents can address on the Nov. 4 ballot.
Since fluoridation is now a state mandate, communities must vote in order to opt out.
While some advocate that it is toxic, others say it is beneficial for oral health.
Executive Director of the Nebraska Dental Association David O’Doherty said that adding fluoride lowers dental decay between 20 and 40 percent.
He said that 60 years of peer reviewed studies show that adding fluoride benefits everyone and is better for overall oral health.
“The state of Nebraska encourages the use of fluoride in the water as a preventative measure,” he said.
In fact, the issue was so pressing in Nebraska that three years ago it was made a priority bill by Sen. Joel Johnson.
O’Doherty said the rising cost of Nebraska’s Medicaid could potentially be reduced by preventing oral problems before they begin, and fluoridation would help remedy this problem.
He said the equivalent of the amount that would be added to the water is like an eye dropper full in a filled bath tub.
O’Doherty said the Center for Disease Control has this listed as one of the top ten public health measures.
The Nebraska State Board of Health “strongly supports the fluoridation of public drinking water as the most cost-effective, equitable and safe means of providing protection from tooth decay in a community.”
While many people see the benefits to adding fluoride to public water, other groups are not convinced it is beneficial.
Advocacy group, Nebraskans for Safe Water, maintains that the chemical use in fluoride – hydrofluorosilicic acid – causes bone cancer, brittle bones, thyroid damage and Attention Deficit Order.
While only one part per millionth is added to the water system, they say only 50 percent is excreted while the other accumulates on bones and skin.
The group cites Dr. Richard Foulkes – Canadian doctor – who said “fluoridation does not prevent tooth decay and may cause serious illness, birth defects and premature death.”
The also claim as of 2006 the American Dental Association does not recommend making baby formula with fluoridated water.
Fluoridated toothpaste is labeled “poison, do not swallow.”
They argue, “how can you not swallow fluoride if it is in the water?”
O’Doherty argues that “anything at inappropriate levels is poison.”
He also said “the pros outweigh the cons.”
O’Doherty said that Sidney is an ideal candidate for implementing fluoridating, stating that the area has 13 well cites.
“The initial cost is the down side,” he said.
City Manager Gary Person said that the initial cost of fluoridating Sidney’s water would cost between $50,000 and $100,000.
He said it is for Sidney residents to decide.