JEFFERSON—For the foreseeable future, at least, the City of Jefferson will continue to put fluoride into its drinking water.
The Jefferson Common Council in recent days changed its collective mind on the subject. Originally, unanimously in favor of removal of fluoride from city water, the council’s attitude changed after the panel heard from a pair of local dental experts, including dentist, Michael Bender of Fort Atkinson. Bender said that city residents’ oral health would continue to benefit from fluoride injections into the water supply.
Waterloo has voted to no longer fluoridate its water, but has since been reconsidering that after hearing from dentists and other citizens.
Arguments against fluoridation have included that the chemical, which can help strengthen teeth, is no longer needed, because it is found so readily in modern toothpastes and mouthwashes.
Bender urged the Jefferson Common Council to continue the practice of including fluoride in its water supply and by a vote of 6-2, with Aldermen Toby Tully and Joe Mattke dissenting at a recent meeting, the council defeated a resolution that would have taken it out.
According to the American Dental Association, fluoride is nature’s cavity fighter and occurs naturally, in varying amounts, in water sources, such as rivers, lakes and oceans. The ADA said fluoride is naturally present, to some extent, in certain foods and beverages, but the levels vary widely. To help protect teeth from cavities, fluoride is also added to some dental products, such as toothpaste.
According to the ADA, almost 75 percent of the U.S. population is served by fluoridated community water systems.
The American Dental Association said it supports community water fluoridation as what it called, “the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay.”
“Studies prove water fluoridation continues to be effective in reducing dental decay by at least 25% in children and adults, even in the era of widespread availability of fluoride from other sources, such as fluoride toothpaste,” the ADA said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has cited community water fluoridation as one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century, along with vaccinations, infectious disease control and motor vehicle safety.
The ADA said water fluoridation is safe, effective and healthy.
“Seventy years of research, thousands of studies and the experience of more than 210 million Americans tell us that water fluoridation is effective in preventing cavities and is safe for children and adults,” the ADA said.
Jefferson Mayor Dale Oppermann said fluoride can be a substance that is dangerous for city workers to handle if it comes into contact with other chemicals, such as chlorine. The mayor said it could become costly for the city to continue adding fluoride to the water in Jefferson, while adhering to DNR guidelines related to wells in the area.
“It will cost us to upgrade facilities (to continue to provide fluoride in the water),” Oppermann said, adding that, based on the council’s decision to continue adding fluoride to the city water, officials will need to obtain a cost estimate on how it will keep its fluoride supply safely separated from its chlorine.
“We have been concerned about the health and safety of our workers working with the fluoride and chlorine, as well as being curious about whether it is even needed anymore,” Oppermann said.
According to Todd Clark, the director of Jefferson’s water and wastewater utility, fluoride, which comes to the city as a liquid acid, has been put into the city’s water supply for decades.
Clark said recent changes in the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources rules regulating fluoride in municipal water have meant that Jefferson and other municipalities can only keep a 30-day supply of the chemical on hand. Clark said this means that the costs of shipping fluoride to the city have gone up because more shipments must be made.
“This change has exacerbated our charges through fuel costs,” he said, adding, “All chemicals have really gone up.”
Clark said there are four wells around the city that put fluoride into the drinking water supply. Another chemical that is injected into the water is chlorine.
*Original full-text article online at: https://www.wdtimes.com/news/local/jefferson-decides-to-leave-fluoride-in-its-water-supply/article_427f2150-3deb-11ed-b1d9-07bbc6cb0bb6.html