De­bate over tap wa­ter long run­ning

To flu­o­ri­date or not? That has al­ways been the ques­tion for some

USA TODAY Weekend Extra - - TECH - Zhai Yun Tan Kaiser Health News Kaiser Health News, a pol­icy news ser­vice, is part of the non-par­ti­san Henry J. Kaiser Fam­ily Foun­da­tion.

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.


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