NASHVILLE – Sen. Tim Barnes, D-Adams, is sponsoring a bill requiring utility districts to notify customers if they stop adding fluoride to their water supply, in hopes of avoiding future concerns like those that arose in Montgomery County.
“There has been an ongoing debate about fluoride in water supplies, and we need to have a standard in place if a system decides to remove it. This bill establishes that standard,” Barnes said.
The bill would require any public water system to give public notice at least 30 days before discontinuing fluoridation. The system would also have to notify the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the Department of Health at least 10 days in advance.
The bill stems from residents’ concern in the East Montgomery and Cunningham areas after the East Montgomery Water Treatment Plant stopped fluoridating its water supply in Feb. 2006.
The utility district did not notify its customers of the change, which was outlined in an October 2007 article in the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle. After discussion, the district’s Board of Directors decided in 2008 to keep fluoride out of its water supply.
Utility districts across the country have fluoridated their water supplies for decades, as small amounts of fluoride have been shown to prevent tooth decay. Recently, some districts have removed fluoride due to research indicating that young children could develop teeth spotting and potentially severe bone problems as a result of excess fluoride.
“There is support on both sides of the issue, but the public deserves to know if there is going to be a change in policy,” Barnes said.
The bill (SB2987) is scheduled to be heard in a Senate committee Tuesday.