Fluoride Action Network

Fluoride tabled until March, more research needed

Amery Free Press | Feb 24, 2024 | By Justin Runberg
Posted on February 24th, 2024

In the midst of the fluoride discussion during the last city council meeting it was decided that more time and research was needed before making a definitive decision. During the meeting, a member of the audience gave their opinion as to why the city should keep fluoride in the water. There were also counter arguments given by Public Works and the Wastewater Treatment facility. 

The first speaker was Dr. Tom VanSomeren, a local dentist giving reasons as to why the city should keep fluoridating the water. During the presentation VanSomeren offered perspectives from the side of dentistry. He made the council aware that all dentists in the surrounding area were for fluoride in the water, which consists of four different businesses and six different doctors including VanSomeren. He was made aware of the process it takes to fluoridate the water and understood the hassle but also complimented public works and the wastewater treatment facility in their efforts at keeping the levels at optimal and safe levels. However, he did stress the importance and success of the program for several decades. 

“Everybody has voiced support of trying to continue this because it’s been such a successful program over the course of the last 70 plus years in the country. It may seem counterintuitive that we support something that actually reduces the number of cavities that may be coming through our doors. But as health care professional professionals, we are all dedicated to doing what we can to improve the quality of life in our community,” said VanSomeren. 

“The benefits that can be derived from continuing the process can be seen at all levels of the community. It helps those who don’t have access to the appropriate dental care they need and is another wall of defense for them,” said VanSomeren. “This includes young children to older adults in long term care facilities. The impact it has would help underserved communities to help keep cavities and tooth decay numbers low.”

The opposition to fluoride came from the Public Works director, Jeff Mahoney, and the Wastewater Treatment Facility operator, Jeremy Wood. Both presented reasons why the city shouldn’t keep fluoridating the water. The majority of the reasons for not having it boiled down to the safety and the financial aspect of keeping it. The chemicals needed to keep fluoridating the water are very corrosive. Wood said that it will eat away at concrete and has done so to the pipes that directs it into the water supply. Another safety concern that was brought up was that there are only a few companies that deliver it to municipalities. When chemicals like that are being transferred, they will majority of the time put safety tape over the top of it so they know its sealed. Lately they have not. 

“There’s only a couple companies that can actually deliver it on a company truck. And then the only one I know of is out of the city. And so you get it on a different truck. Well, I was getting barrels that have safety tape over it. It was a blue tape that says do not tamper proof it. Well, now they start coming with nothing. I said I’m not I’m not putting that in somebody’s water,” said Wood. 

The other major argument was the financials of keeping the program going. The two biggest obstacles are having the space to separate the chemicals and to replace the corroded equipment. The cost to replace the current equipment, which is only a few years old, would cost roughly $20,000 to replace. In total though, they were looking at a price tag of $100,000 to be able to safely store the chemicals and keep current on the equipment necessary to keep fluoridating the water. 

Council members listened to both sides and decided more time was needed to make a decision on keeping fluoride. Within the week, council members received upwards of about 40 emails all regarding the pros and cons of keeping fluoride in the water. The council ultimately decided to table the decision until their next meeting in March to have adequate time to research and make an informed decision that would affect the community. 

“I have not had time to read the countless letters and articles that I have been sent. And we can only make the decision that is best with the information we have. So having some time to review it, I think, could be very helpful,” said Mykaela Thompson, Alderperson.

Original article online at: https://www.theameryfreepress.com/news/fluoride-tabled-until-march-more-research-needed/article_baf10e68-d0cb-11ee-966a-fb3c502be466.html