The water board tabled a plan to remove fluoride from the city’s water, said Joe Graham, water board chairman, Wednesday.
In September, Doug Clement, manager with the Russellville Water Board, said the city would stop adding fluoride, used by many municipalities to prevent tooth decay. The announcement raised concerns from some local dentists and health officials.
The proposal caused people from Pennsylvania to Utah to weigh in on the pros and cons of fluoride. Many supporters say that in poor areas such as Russellville, fluoride is necessary for children whose families may not be able to afford dental care. Fluoride opponents say that the chemical, a waste product from the fertilizer industry, is poisonous when ingested long term and causes medical problems, including bone and tooth disorders and developmental defects in children.
“With all of the controversy, we’re going to leave it alone,” Graham said of the informal agreement among the five-member water board.
Clement was in Tuscaloosa on business and was unavailable for comment Wednesday.
He previously said, however, that initial research into fluoride had raised some red flags, including a 2006 study from the National Research Council, which concluded that the national standard for fluoride in drinking water was unsafe and should be lowered.
Fluoride exclusion has many supporters, including medical and dental professionals.
This summer, Red Bay removed fluoride from its water system, according to officials.
Joe Beasley, water manager for Red Bay, was in Montgomery on business and unavailable for comment.
Graham said the motion to table the proposal was also a response to health professionals who had a concern over the fluoride removal.
The water board will next meet at 10 a.m. Jan. 12 at the Water Board warehouse on Underwood Road.