A split Greenville City Council has voted to affirm its earlier decision to resume adding fluoride into the local water supply.
Several people spoke out about the practice during Tuesday’s council meeting, some for and some against.
Dr. Robert Deuell was among those supporting the practice, citing a volume of peer-reviewed studies which touted the positives of adding fluoride as a measure to help prevent tooth decay.
“I think the medical research proves it to be a beneficial thing for the community,” Deuell said.
Kory Watkins argued against, believing the measure was an unconstitutional violation of individual rights.
“Fluoride is poisonous. If you ingest too much of it, it is going to be a problem,” he said. “There is no control. There is no doctor looking over the dose of the medication.”
But the council ended up voting 4-3 against rescinding an ordinance which ordered the resumption of adding fluoride into the water supply, following a three-year hiatus. Council members Jeff Dailey, Cedric Dean and James Evans voted against.
At the Oct. 11 meeting, Dr. Jeffrey Nelson, D.D.S. helped the council vote in favor of the practice.
Nelson returned to Tuesday’s meeting, noting multiple dentists in Greenville supported the move.
“We have broad support in our community,” he said, handing petitions from those backing the measure to the council. “About 95 percent of my patients support it.”
But Judy Woods said local residents should not be forced to consume fluoride.
“We are having no choice in taking this drug or not,” she said.
The City of Greenville ceased fluoridation of its drinking water in Sept. 2013, due to the effort causing too much wear and tear on equipment. Director of Public Works John Wright has said the current fluoride concentration found naturally in the city’s raw water supply averages one-third to one-half of the fluoride level recommended by the EPA.
Wright said the addition of fluoride to the city’s treated drinking water would raise the natural concentration of about .3 parts per million (ppm) up to the recommended level of 0.7 ppm, with the initial estimated $50,000 in expenses covered in the city budget.
Wright said he had heard that extremely high concentrations of fluoride in the water supply, several times the amount to be added, might result in hurting the teeth of baby’s or making bones brittle.
The council voted 4-2 Oct. 11 to proceed with the addition of fluoride, but voted Oct. 25 to place the matter on Tuesday’s agenda.