Editor’s note: This is the fourth and final part in a series examining water fluoridation in Mount Pleasant.
While the battle of water fluoridation rages on in the city of Mount Pleasant, surrounding cities fluoridate municipal water supplies with little debate.
Water fluoridation, the practice of adding fluoride to municipal water supplies to help fight tooth decay, is recommended by the American Dental Association and the Centers for Disease Control.
William Pilmore, water department superintendent for the city of Alma, said Alma has been fluoridating its water since the mid-1960s without much controversy.
“We’ve never had an issue come up where someone has challenged us putting it in the water,” Pilmore said. “Until that happens, we’ll continue to fluoridate.”
Pilmore said the concentration of fluoride in Alma’s municipal water supply varies in range between 1 parts per million, or milligrams per liter, to 1.3 ppm. The ADA and CDC currently recommend between .7 and 1 ppm.
He said water fluoridation is beneficial and he is unaware of any adverse health effects.
“The obvious benefits are for the children’s teeth and cavities, kind of preventing that,” he said. “We haven’t had that level of disagreement on the benefits.”
Pilmore, referencing the ongoing study by the Environmental Protection Agency on the safety of water fluoridation, said the city of Alma is not in the business of breaking any rules.
“Whatever EPA mandates, we have to follow,“ he said. “Obviously we will have to comply with that, otherwise we’ll be in violation of the safe drinking water act.”
Dave Love, water department superintendent for the city of Midland, said the city’s water is fluoridated to 1 ppm.
“It’s used in water treatment and it’s recommend by the CDC to fluoridate community water supplies,” Love said. “Basically, it reduces dental cavities, it provides protection from tooth decay amongst the general population. It has been used for years in the United States for that.”
He said the EPA study will dictate whether or not the city of Midland continues to fluoridate its water supply.
“We’ll review the findings, they’re the ones that will assist in creating regulatory direction,” he said. “As far as regulatory issues and treatment go, we’re certainly going to comply.”
Tom Quick, a water department operator for the city of Clare, said the city has practiced water fluoridation for more than 20 years and treats its water supply at 1 ppm.
Carmen Johnson, water department superintendent for the city of Big Rapids, said there has been little concern about fluoridation in the city.
“If you talk to any dentist in town, they believe that the fluoridation is a huge benefit,” he said.
Johnson said Big Rapids has a fluoride concentration of 1 ppm.
However, not all surrounding communities practice water fluoridation.
Kim Smith, public works coordinator for Union Township, said the township does not fluoridate its water.
Only the naturally occurring fluoride concentration of 0.33 ppm exists in its water supply.
“We very seldom even get a request for that,” Smith said.