The Greater Johnstown Water Authority is considering no longer adding fluoride to water it supplies to customers.
But, before making a decision, board members want to receive input from the community. So a public meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, beginning at 10 a.m., at the authority’s headquarters, located at 640 Franklin St.
“It’s a pretty hot topic,” said Michael Kerr, the facility’s resident manager.
“It’s pretty well split down the middle.”
Eliminating fluoride – a mineral used to fight tooth decay – would be a savings measure for the authority.
The organization needs to update its chemical feed system, which could cost around $125,000 and require extensive permitting, according to Kerr.
He also projects the authority will need to spend $400,000 or more on fluoride over the next decade.
“Considering the permitting work, the cost of replacing (the system), the yearly increase in chemical costs for the fluoride itself, the water authority board thought it would be good to consider the removal of fluoride from water,” Kerr said.
Dr. Alicia Risner-Bauman, a fluoridation spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Dental Association, described adding fluoride to water as an economically beneficial process.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study showed that – in communities withmore than 20,000 residents – for every $1 invested in putting fluoride into water there is a $38 savings in dental treatment costs.
“We know that water fluoridation has been proven effective to help fight dental decay,” Risner-Bauman said.
“That has been shown in very large studies in very large populations.”
She described fluoride as a tool in fighting the nation’s tooth decay “epidemic.”