Fluoride will remain in Martinsville’s drinking water — at least for the time being.
During its meeting Tuesday night, Martinsville City Council did not consider removing fluoride from the city’s water supply.
A fluoride discussion was not on the council meeting’s agenda. However, Councilwoman Sharon Brooks Hodge, a fluoride opponent, said during the July 14 council meeting that if no one else were to make a motion during Tuesday night’s meeting to discontinue adding fluoride to Martinsville’s water, she would do so.
Hodge said Tuesday that she did not make a motion during the previous meeting to remove fluoride because she wanted to give Vice Mayor Jennifer Bowles time to consider information presented by fluoride opponents, as Bowles had indicated that she wanted to do.
Bowles was absent from Tuesday night’s meeting because she was out of town on business pertaining to her job. Hodge said she believed it “would be out of order for me” to make a motion without Bowles being there.
After the meeting, Hodge said she probably will not make a motion at the next meeting to remove fluoride because she senses that the motion would not be seconded by another council member.
City resident Joe Martin, a fluoride opponent, told the Martinsville Bulletin before the meeting that he and other opponents plan to launch a public education campaign, such as through distributing fliers, about potential dangers of fluoride. Hodge said after the meeting that she likely will wait and see whether more opposition to fluoride arises in the future before she considers making a motion to remove fluoride from water, and she wants to be able to discern that her motion would not die due to the lack of a second.
Localities nationwide have added fluoride, a derivative of the element fluorine, to their drinking water since the 1940s to help prevent dental problems, such as tooth decay, among residents. The American Dental Association has determined that roughly 75 percent of Americans hooked into public water supplies have fluoridated water.
Martinsville has put fluoride in its water since the 1960s. The city spends about $15,000 a year to do so.
Most health officials agree that fluoride in drinking water is safe as long as it does not exceed a certain level. The U.S. Public Health Service recommends a level of no more than 0.7 milligrams per liter. Officials have said that is the level now being added to Martinsville’s water.
Yet there have been studies indicating that exposure to too much fluoride could lead to dental and health problems such as white spots on teeth, thyroid conditions, brain disorders and hyperactivity.
Councilman Gene Teague has surmised that if the majority of city residents did not want fluoride in their water, the council would have heard far more criticism of the practice.