Fluoride Action Network

Updated: Amherst County will not add fluoride to water

Source: The News & Advance | January 13th, 2014 | By Sherese Gore
Location: United States, Virginia

The Amherst County Service Authority has ceased fluoridation of its water supply, long upheld as a simple way to reduce tooth decay in the general population, and at this time does not appear ready to resume the practice.

Other municipalities that provide water in the area, including Campbell County and the city of Lynchburg, will continue to fluoridate their water and have no plans to change.

In fact, Lynchburg was one of two of the first cities in Virginia to fluoridate its water supply, beginning in 1952, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

Campbell County always has added fluoride to its water and has no plans to change that because it is recommended by the Virginia Department of Health and the American Dental Association, said Frank Davis, Campbell County Utilities and Service Authority’s director.

“Fluoridation is viewed as the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay and improve oral health,” according to the state health department.

Appomattox County doesn’t add fluoride to its water, and Bedford County is a combination of the two practices.

Bedford Regional Water Authority adds fluoride to the water at the central plant, which serves the town of Bedford, but not at the plant that serves the Smith Mountain Lake area, said Megan Rapp, communications coordinator for the authority. The water that goes to the Forest and Boonsboro areas is purchased from the city of Lynchburg.

Rapp said the water authority has discussed discontinuing fluoride several times in the past but doesn’t have any current plans to do so.

Fluoridation, or the controlled practice of adding small amounts of fluoride to the water supply to reduce tooth decay, has been dis-continued at the water filtration plant in Madison Heights since March 2011. Last month, Public Utilities Director Dan French approached the service authority board for further guidance on the issue after receiving an October letter from the Virginia Department of Health’s Office of Drinking Water that encouraged the resumption of fluoridation.

The historic operational range for fluoridation in Virginia has been 0.8 to 1.4 milligrams per liter (or parts per million), with the target concentration being 0.9 milligrams per liter, according to French.

As chemistry of the water changes during the course of the day, the fluoride concentration will drift a little bit, French said in a later interview. “That’s why you have a control range.”

According to French, the service authority discontinued fluoridation at the water filtration plant in 2011 after the fluoridation feed system was moved to a different part of the plant during upgrades.

It was anticipated that fluoridation would be interrupted for a four- to six-week time period but the practice never resumed because of conflicting opinions on what the standard level of concentration should be.

Around that time, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Environmental Protection Agency issued a joint news release suggesting that 0.7 milligrams per liter should be the standard nationwide, French said.

In addition, there’s added confusion among different agencies as what the levels should be, he said.

According to French, the push for fluoridation aims to improve limited oral hygiene for some families by reducing tooth decay, but he added that the practice is not without its critics.

District 4 Supervisor and water authority member David Pugh questioned the need to resume fluoridation, saying that many residents now drink beverages such as bottled water instead of tap water.

During the meeting, the service authority board voted 3-2, with members Robert Curd and Frank Campbell opposing, to not resume fluoridation at the plant at this time.

“I’m more than ready to do this at any time the board sees fit,” French said. “But we have to know — what are our working parameters.”

Staff writer Katrina Koerting contributed to this report.