Fluoride Action Network

Senators Debate Fluoride Requirement in Water

Source: NTV ABC-TV | March 13th, 2008
Location: United States, Nebraska

The light in the dental chair is so bright, seven-year-old Christian has to wear shades.

Dental hygienist Hannah Randell finds a cavity inside. Many of her patients suffer from tooth decay.

Randell, a dental Hygiene instructor at Central Community College brings her students to the Third City Community Clinic in Grand Island.

She said, “The first week we had the clinic open we had a small child in here, seven years old and had 17 cavities.”

She said there’s a simple step to make teeth stronger. That’s adding fluoride to the water — something many communities don’t do. So she prescribes it to her patients and her own kids.

“When we moved from Lincoln I had to put my kids on fluoride supplements,” Randell said.

Now that Kearney Sen. Joel Johnson has taken on smoking, fluoride’s his priority.

“We’re going after the second biggest thing,” he said.

Sen. Ray Aguilar also backs the proposal. “Whatever we can do in a preventative nature at a very young age for children, the better off we’re going to be,” he said.

Some consider it a poison. And it won’t sit well in communities like Grand Island and Hastings where voters have rejected fluoride several times. But experts say small amounts have proven effective.

“It shows — the decay rate is much less there,” Randell said of communities that fluoridate.

Without the Third City Community Clinic, Christian’s mom says she can’t afford dental care. That’s why this hygienist supports fluoridation.

Randell said, “If they had that fluoride helping them out maybe they wouldn’t have as many problems because they aren’t going to the dentist.”

Marv Schultes, head of Hastings Utilities estimated it could cost $1 million or more to equip the city for fluoridation. He said the city voted against fluoridation in 1974, with around 70 percent of the public against it. He said the expense would come from the fact the city has 25-30 wells.

It’s been more than ten years since Grand Island added fluoride to its water.

The city did briefly, then voters rejected it. They sold their fluoride to Kearney — the only one of the tri-cities that uses it today.

This bill would only apply to cities of a thousand people or more.

Reporter’s Notes by Steve White:
Grand Island Utilities Director Gary Mader said the city’s equipment has sat idle for a decade. He said the pumps would need to be replaced.

The proposed bill would allow cities to opt out, however they would have to vote by the end of the year to do so.