Fluoride could be eliminated from Greer’s water supply.That is one of three options facing Greer Commission of Public Works as it begins a series of public presentations asking for input from its customers.There are two camps of thought – those who want fluoride in the water supply and others who don’t.
“There have been communities (Bishopville) that have decided they don’t want fluoride in their water,” General Manager Jeff Tuttle said at today’s commissioners meeting. “We want to be careful it’s not a lot of outside people coming in and stating their position.”
CPW follows the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommended fluoride limit to 0.7 milligrams per liter of water to prevent tooth decay. Cities and towns decide on their own how much fluoride to add to water, within the federal recommended range 0.7 milligrams to 1.2 milligrams per liter.
“If we hear loud feedback from our customer base we can eliminate (fluoride) or we can lower the amount of fluoride in the water. Maybe we keep doing what we are doing,” Tuttle said.
Fluoride has been added to water supplies in the United States since 1945 to prevent tooth decay.
People are getting more fluoride from other sources now, such as toothpaste, mouthwash, prescription fluoride supplements and fluoride treatments given by dentists.
“We want to present the new suggested guidelines to our customer base,” Tuttle said. “We think it’s important to have that dialogue. We will have a brief presentation and people can make remarks.”
The public forum will include CPW staff and experts, according to Tuttle.
Nearly 75 percent of Americans who are served by public water systems receive fluoridated water. Interestingly Europe, including Great Britain, uses no fluorine. There is no higher evidence of tooth decay in Europe than there is the U.S.
Too much fluoride could result in fluorosis, a cosmetic condition that affects the teeth during the first eight years of life. It causes faint white lines to appear on the teeth that isn’t harmful and often is visible only to dentists.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) named community water fluoridation one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.
Commissioner Jeff Howell has reason to favor CPW’s continued use of fluoride. “I grew up on well water until I was eighteen-years-old,” Howell said. “I had tons of cavities. After I went to college, I married and now I’m 60, I have had but four cavities since then.”
Howell said he remembers long-time Greer dentist Dr. Brown as a fluoridation advocate. “He was one of the first dentists in our area to get on board to put fluoride in the water,” Howell said. “I will talk to Dr. Brown about it.”
CPW spends $40,000 annually to fluoridate the water. “You fluoridate all the water but about 99 percent of it goes down the drain,” Tuttle said.
“The vast majority of it you’re putting on the lawn, washing cars with it or bathing with it. All these things but consuming it.”
Fluoride presentations to the public will be held (TBA = time to be announced):
• Aug. 26, Greer City Council, 6:30 p.m.
• Aug. 27, Cannon Centre, 204 Cannon Street, time TBA
• Sept. 1, Cannon Centre, 204 Cannon Street, time TBA
• Sept. 9, Blue Ridge High School, TBA