Like vaccines, fluoridated water has become a flashpoint in a passionate public health dispute, with both sides accusing the other of disinformation. While advocates say it’s made a huge difference in dental health by reducing cavities in teeth, opponents say it’s toxic industrial waste being forced on an unsuspecting public.
Tuesday morning, Collier commissioners are set to discuss whether to continue adding the mineral to water distributed by the County’s Public Utilities Division’s Water Department, which reaches more than 85,000 people. Here are six things to know about the issue:
Fluoride used here for decades – but not everywhere
Unincorporated Collier County has had fluoride added to its water since 1985, says county spokeswoman Deborah Curry; it currently flows through some 85,000 connections, which include single family homes, multifamily homes, and commercial buildings,” Curry wrote in an email. The decision wouldn’t affect Naples and Immokalee, which fluoridate their water but are independent municipalities. Ave Maria, Everglades City and Marco Island don’t, and it’s not something residents with private wells generally add to their water either.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection regulate levels of fluoride in drinking water while utilities that participate in a dental health program are monitored by the Florida Department of Health with a recommended optimal fluoride concentrations provided by the U.S. Public Health Service, Curry says.