The great Milwaukee fluoride debate is over.
The city’s Common Council on Tuesday agreed to direct the Milwaukee Water Works to lower the concentration of fluoride in the city’s drinking water.
In addition, aldermen endorsed a proposal in which the water works and the city’s Health Department would provide infant advisory notices to citizens about the potential risk fluoridated water poses to babies under six months of age.
The advisory notice would be distributed in annual water quality reports, posted on the water works and health department websites, and posted in all health department facilities.
In addition, residents who get maternal and infant home visits from health department personnel would be told about the potential risks of fluoridated water for infants under six months of age.
Ald. Jim Bohl originally wanted to ban fluoride entirely from the city’s drinking water, setting off a community debate about fluoride. Bohl then forged a compromise with support from other aldermen.
The measure calls on the water works to reduce the amount of fluoride to 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water. That measure is the standard the federal Department of Health and Human Services has recommended that the nation’s water systems adopt. That proposed standard, which has not been fully implemented nationwide, would replace the current recommended range of 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water.
Milwaukee’s fluoride level is 1.1 milligrams of fluoride per liter.
In a statement released after the council’s decision, the Wisconsin Dental Association and its local group, the Greater Milwaukee Dental Association, thanked aldermen for their decision to continue to keep some fluoride in the water.
“The WDA and GMDA welcome the opportunity to work with the Milwaukee Health Department, Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin and other public health advocates in educating all city residents and customers of Milwaukee Water Works of the many dental health benefits community fluoridation provides to people of all ages and all socio-economic backgrounds,” the statement said.