The chemistry of Port Angeles’ drinking water has changed a bit within the last week.
The city began reducing the level of fluoride in the municipal water supply from 1 part per million to 0.8 about a week ago and reached the new level Monday.
The move is meant to put the city in line with the new recommended fluoride level of 0.8 as set recently by the state Department of Health, said City Manager Kent Myers and Public Works and Utilities Director Glenn Cutler.
Health spokesman Gordon MacCracken said the state agency had recommended a dose of 1 part per million.
He said utilities were notified of the change last month.
MacCracken said the state department decided to reduce the recommended dose after reviewing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ proposal to reduce its recommended range from between 0.7 to 1.2 parts per million to just 0.7.
“We think that 0.8 is a level that ensures safety and that also ensures the beneficial effects,” he said.
Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay.
The federal government is considering the change because of new data that suggests Americans are consuming a greater amount of fluoride from nonmunicipal sources, such as toothpaste.
Too much fluoride, considered to be 4 parts per million, can cause long-term health effects, including brittle bones.
The city of Forks is the only other utility on the North Olympic Peninsula that fluoridates its water.
Forks Public Works Director Dave Zellar said the city hadn’t been notified of the change but added it will comply with the state agency’s recommendation.
“Whatever rule and recommendation comes out of the Department of Health is what we have to follow,” he said.
Forks currently fluoridates its water at 1 part per million.
Zellar said Forks has 0.2 parts per million of naturally occurring fluoride in its drinking water.
Port Angeles has none, Cutler said.
Keith Wollen, a member of the anti-fluoride group Clallam County Citizens for Safe Drinking Water, called the lower dose “a step in the right direction.”
“I think that’s marvelous news that they are finally recognizing the dangers of this,” he said.
Wollen of Port Angeles said the group and other anti-fluoride organizations in Clallam County are still considering filing a lawsuit against Port Angeles to stop fluoridation there. He said he didn’t know if Forks would be included in any legal action.