The Oneida City Common Council is poised to vote on whether or not to fluoridate the city’s water supply during its meeting Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Oneida City Hall.
The vote coincides with a recent government recommendation that suggested lowering the levels of fluoride in drinking water for the first time in 50 years. The new level is .7 parts per million (ppm) for all climates and locations.
On April 21 the city common council held its third public hearing on whether or not to fluoridate the city’s drinking water. If they approve the action, the amount of fluoride in the city’s water supply would be set at .7 ppm and would not exceed 1.2 ppm.
“Being able to control the amount of fluoride in Oneida’s water is relatively easy, if the vote passes,” Oneida Mayor Alden Smith said.
Since 1962 the federal government had recommended .7 parts per million (ppm) in warmer climates and 1.2 parts per million in colder climates. The warmer climates had lower recommended levels because people drink more water in areas with higher temperatures.
The new recommendations follow a proposal that began four years ago. Since then, the government has sifted through and responded to 19,000 public comments.
“The change is suggested because people who receive fluoridated drinking water are now apparently getting too much fluoride in toothpaste, mouthwash, and other products,” Smith said.
Despite its proven effectiveness in preventing cavities, many continue to argue against fluoridation. During the April 21 meeting, several residents of Oneida and communities that receive Oneida water spoke against it.
One effect of fluoridation is dental fluorosis, a cosmetic effect that shows as streaking or splotches on teeth. One study found that 2 out of 5 children who drink fluoridated water have spotted teeth.
During the most recent public hearing Hamilton pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Meyers said dental fluorosis is a sign of healthy teeth.
“We have found that in cases of fluorosis happening patients have stronger teeth,” Dr. Meyers said.
Dr. Meyers treats children from several areas including Oneida and Munnsville.
According to www.webmd.com, fluorosis affects one in four people aged six to 49. About two percent of the cases are considered moderate and one percent are considered severe. Fluorosis is most common in ages 12-15. Since the mid-1980’s the fluorosis has occurred more frequently in the 12 to 15-year-old age group.
“The spotting and such that occurs during fluorosis is barely noticeable,” Smith said.
The common council voted not to support fluoridation in 2002 and revisited the subject in 2008. Oneida dentist Dr. Samuel Barr and a group of other local dentists have, along with the Madison County Board of Health, begun recommending fluoridation to the city.
During the April public hearing Dr. Barr said the amount of fluoride found in toothpaste is not a problem.
“They make toothpaste tubes a certain size for a reason,” Dr. Barr said.
The majority of speakers at the public hearing opposed fluoridation.
“Today there exists a certain distrust of government, in general, and I think the issue of fluoridation reflects that,” Smith said. “Fluoridation is a heated issue.”
Fluoride is a naturally-occuring mineral in water and soil. In 1945 Grand Rapids, Michigan became the first city in the world to add fluoride to its municipal drinking water. In 1951 studies found a significant decline in tooth decay among it residents. Following the studies the U.S. surgeon general recommended fluoridation for municipal water supplies.
Oneida provides water to several other municipalities including Sherrill and parts of Rome. Representatives from these others areas were represented at the public hearing.
About 75 percent of Americans who receive municipal water have fluoridated water.