Fluoride Action Network

Lack of fluoride in Sea Isle water has some gritting their teeth

Source: pressofAtlanticCity.com | Staff Writer
Posted on August 16th, 2008

SEA ISLE CITY – Fluoride, the chemical sometimes added to public drinking water to help prevent tooth decay, has some in Sea Isle City not smiling. Or, rather, the lack of fluoride in the water is what’s leaving a sour taste in the mouth of some residents.

The city quietly stopped the practice at least eight years ago. But officials didn’t tell the public about its removal for four years, even though voters approved fluoridation in a 1990 referendum.

Now, some residents are renewing their call for the city to reinstate fluoride treatment.

Among them is Bob Lynch, a member of the citizen’s watchdog group Town Watch/ Town Pride.

Lynch discovered the lack of fluoride in the water in 2004, after his dentist told him of a rumor around the city that the treatments had stopped.

“Fluoride is a failure of the city of Sea Isle to the people,” Lynch said.

It jeopardized the dental health of residents who might have forgone other treatments – such as taking fluoride pills – had they known fluoride was no longer in the water supply, Lynch said.

Sea Isle City dentist Dr. Mark Sisko recently wrote City Council voicing his support for fluoride.

The five-member City Council, which took office last July after a change of government, is waiting for an estimate of how much fluoridation will cost before they act.

Administrator George Savastano said the city is gathering information and costs on what it will take to reintroduce fluoride into the city’s water supply. This would include training staff on how to handle the chemical.

“I think we’re taking a serious look at it,” City Council President John Divney said.

Fluoridation was discussed last year as the city planned its capital budget for 2008 but was not included at the time, Divney said.

In 2005, the former Sea Isle City Commission indicated that adding fluoride would cost $305,000, the majority of which stemmed from new regulations regarding how the chemicals had to be stored.

Fluoride is naturally present in all water, but fluoridation adds to the concentration, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The fluoridation system was disconnected by September 2000, according to a letter former City Commissioner Angela Dalrymple sent Thomas Henry, of the Sea Isle City Taxpayers Association, in November 2004.

One of the city’s wells was undergoing systems upgrades and was turned off at the time; two others were experiencing problems and were disconnected, according to the memo.

In 2005, Dalrymple said the fluoridation system grew unsafe after a broken tube splattered the chemicals, which in condensed form are toxic.

The systems were not repaired, and the public was not informed of the discontinuation until almost four years later.

In the meantime, regulations on how chemicals such as fluoride need to be stored became more stringent, requiring construction of secure holding areas.

“For the first time, I believe we will get this on track. I think the past history is sad, but it’s past,” Lynch said.