Debate over tap water long running
To fluoridate or not? That has always been the question for some
Many people take for granted the addition of fluoride into public drinking water systems that aims to prevent tooth decay. It’s a seven-decade-old public health effort. But it’s not as universally accepted as one might think.
At least seven U.S. cities or towns debated it this summer.
For example, Wellington, Fla., decided to add fluoride back into the water in July after the City Council voted two years ago to remove it. Across the country in Healdsburg, Calif., voters will revisit a ballot question in November on whether to stop adding the mineral to the water supply.
“There has always been periodic discussion,” said Steven Levy, a dentistry professor at the University of Iowa. Levy is involved in an Iowa-based longitudinal study that tracks fluoride intake and its effects on children’s bones. “We are seeing more challenges now because of the communication explosion with the Internet.”
The debate started well before 1945 when Grand Rapids, Mich., became the first U.S. city to add fluoride to its water supply. In the decades since, opposition usually stems from studies linking fluoride intake by children with lower IQs, higher rates of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and potential toxicity.
Still, about 74% of the population receive fluoridated water, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.