WILMINGTON — To fluoridate or not to fluoridate Wilmington’s water. That is the question to be presented Thursday at 7:30 p.m. during Wilmington council’s regularly scheduled meeting.
“The purpose of Thursday’s forum is to gather public input on a proposed community water fluoridation program – specifically, to fluoridate Wilmington’s water at the state mandated 0.8 parts per million,” wrote Kelsey Swindler, chair of council’s water committee.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says drinking fluoridated water keeps teeth strong and reduced tooth decay in approximately 25 percent of children and adults, is shown to save money, and ultimately improves dental health.
The Fluoride Action Network, which opposes the fluoridation of water, says, “Fluoridating water supplies is an outdated, unnecessary and dangerous relic from a 1950s public health culture that viewed mass distribution of chemicals much differently than scientists do today.”
Swindler said the county health department, local health organizations’ representatives, area dentists, pediatricians and primary care physicians have been invited to the meeting, and she said research from the U.S. Department of Health and other sources will be available for community members.
Swindler said the water committee will discuss fluoridation at its June 2 meeting.
“The input we gather from community members will direct our course from there,” Swindler wrote. “I hope that the committee can determine whether or not it would like to move water fluoridation to council at that meeting – and if so, what form the proposal will take, a ballot measure or council action.”
The water committee of Wilmington’s council began discussing the possibility of fluoridating the water in mid-March.
Since then, committee members have received some public feedback.
Former water committee chair and council member David Hockaday said some research suggests an increase in neurotoxicity in children exposed to high levels of fluoride. He also said a few citizens were opposed to fluoridating water in the past, claiming they had allergic reactions to the chemical used in public water systems.
At a March 26 meeting, Dr. Shawn Swick said studies showing negative effects of fluoride involved levels of fluoride well beyond what Wilmington would do to its water. Clinton County Health Commissioner Pam Bauer also supported fluoridation, saying, “For pennies, you can do a lot of prevention.”
Nationally, the CDC, the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics support the use of fluoride in water as a means of improving dental health.
Historically, in 1969, the Ohio Department of Health mandated all public water systems serving more than 5,000 people begin fluoridation of their water, but it gave cities one chance to opt out of the requirement by a ballot issue. Wilmington’s voters in took that exemption in a 701-429 vote, according to Wilmington Safety and Service Director Brian Shidaker.
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.