Getting some timely and much-needed financial help, the City of Henry will be continuing to put fluoride into its water system.

The city’s mayor and board of aldermen agreed Thursday night to accept a $6,000 gift from the state that will pay to replace some corrosive equipment in the city’s water system and allow it to keep using fluoride.

The city had discovered about two months ago that an infuser needed replacing. Without that infuser, the city’s water system couldn’t add fluoride into the water supply.

So, city officials had been discussing the possibility of going without the equipment and just dropping the use of fluoride for one very good reason — the city just didn’t have enough money to pay for the new equipment.

Fluoride is a chemical substance that’s added to water supplies and generally perceived as reducing tooth decay. Fluoridated water has fluoride at a level that is effective in preventing cavities.

When other local officials learned Henry was considering eliminating the use of fluoride, they apparently sprung into action. Tracy Byrd, director of the Henry County Health Department, met with Henry County Mayor Brent Greer.

Byrd was able to arrange for a $6,000 state appropriation to the City of Henry that will be used to replace the equipment needed for the water system and keep the fluoride pumping.

Byrd attended Thursday’s meeting, along with Ed Reese, a dentist from Union City who has worked closely with the Health Department.

Both pointed out that most reputable organizations — the American Dental Association and the American Medical Association, for example — strongly back the use of fluoride in water systems, even though some talk has cropped up in the last few years that fluoride is actually bad for children, causing them to have lower IQ scores, for example, after continued consumption at a very young age.

Reese said there is a condition called fluorosis that can occur with large use of fluoride.

“It turns your teeth brown and could also be a factor in IQ scores. But you’d have to be sitting there eating it (fluoride) all day long to get it,” he said.

Fluoride also is used in dental treatments and in toothpaste. Such levels are perfectly safe, as is the amount used in water systems, Byrd and Reese emphasized.

The board voted 4-0 to accept the $6,000 gift, which Mayor Michael Gross said would be enough to pay for the needed equipment. As mayor, Gross chose not to vote on the motion by Cindy Rainey.

Gross pointed out that the city still will have to pay for the fluoride itself.

It’s expected the water system will be good for at least 10 more years before the city might face this problem again.

In other action Thursday…

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