WALDEN – The Village Board will consult with health professionals about the benefits and side effects of having fluoride in the water, a step mandated by state law before a municipality can remove the chemical from the public water.
During a board meeting on Tuesday evening, the trustees unanimously agreed during an informal poll to continue the discussion regarding removing fluoride, which reduces cavities and tooth decay, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to a state law passed in 2015, the village must consult with health professionals before deciding to remove fluoride from the water supply. The law also states the village must alert citizens of the proposed change, providing a justification, alternatives to fluoridation and a summary of consultations with health professionals.
Fluoride was added to the water many years ago, but it was removed in 2010, according to Village Manager John Revella.
In 2014, the village added fluoride back to the water supply.
New board members Faith Moore and Lynn Thompson have expressed concern about the possible negative health impacts on consumers and employees who must handle fluoride.
Long-term exposure to high levels of fluoride can lead to fluoride build-up in the bones, causing weak bones and even fractures, according to the American Cancer Society.
The EPA’s maximum allowable limit is four milligrams per liter, but the U.S. Public Health Service recommends 0.7.
Meg Atwood, a professor of dental hygiene at Orange County Community College, spoke in favor of keeping fluoride.
Atwood stressed that fluoride has resulted in a 25 percent decrease in tooth decay and works to prevent dental problems, especially for individuals who might not otherwise have access to medical care.
“Fluoride is a poverty equalizer as far as dental access,” she said.
While there have been decreases in tooth decay, a national survey in 2010 still showed significant variation among race and ethnicity and poverty level, according to the U.S. Public Health Service.
Robert Walther, a village resident, said he is strongly opposed to water fluoridation.
“Quite frankly, I think it is unconscionable to forcibly medicate me and the whole village,” Walther said.
Revella said the village will begin identifying health professionals to give public presentations to the Village Board and residents in the near future.
Mayor Susan Rumbold stressed that while the village will be consulting professionals during the decision-making process, she hopes to hear from those who will actually drink the village water: the residents.
* Original article online at http://www.recordonline.com/news/20170606/walden-to-consult-with-health-professionals-on-fluoride-removal