** UPDATE (Aug. 19, 2015) – By a 6-1 vote on Sept. 22, 2011, the council decided against restoring $42,000 to the budget to continue adding fluoride to the city’s water supply. Council maintains this policy today. Watch the video of council’s decision and comments from the Sept. 22 regular meeting (video time 00:56:27 to 01:34:57). **
The City of College Station has many valid reasons for recommending that we stop adding fluoride to our drinking water supply. The city council has received our recommendation and will seek public input on Thursday as part of its budget hearing. The regular meeting starts at 7 p.m. at city hall. The council will make its final decisions on the proposed city budget on Sept. 22.
Fluoride Recommended, Not Required
For more than 50 years, the U.S. Public Health Service has endorsed the practice of adding fluoride to drinking water for dental health at doses of 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter. College Station began adding fluoride to its drinking water in the late 1980s through a grant from the Texas Department of State Health Services, which was then known as the Texas Department of Health. Although adding fluoride is a recommended practice by the American Dental Association and the American Water Works Association, it is not required. The City of Bryan has not added fluoride to its water for several years.
Water Would Still Contain Fluoride
In January 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services proposed lowering the recommended level of fluoride in drinking water to 0.7 milligrams per liter. Our water comes from deep wells and naturally contains a fluoride concentration of approximately 0.4 milligrams per liter. If College Station stopped adding fluoride, the city’s water would still have more than half the recommended level. In addition, individuals can reach the recommended level of fluoride by using fluoridated toothpaste, over-the-counter fluoride rinses, and fluoride treatments from dentists. Many studies have shown that this topical application of fluoride is more effective at strengthening tooth enamel than the systemic ingestion of fluoridated water.
Fluorosilicic Acid is Hazardous
Our water source also has a naturally-high salt content that prevents us from using additives such as sodium fluoride, which would increase the salt content. Consequently, College Station must add fluoride by using fluorosilicic acid, a highly-corrosive and hazardous chemical that puts our employees at risk when they fill the fluoridation system or make repairs.
Annual Price Tag: $40,000
A final but important point is that adding fluoride to our drinking water costs more than $40,000 each year. When our current budget process began, the city manager challenged staff to identify all programs that are not mandated by regulation or otherwise essential. Fluoridation clearly is in that category and was subsequently listed as a potential budget reduction for Fiscal Year 2012.
In summary, our experience has been that for every person who supports the addition of fluoride to the drinking water, another person opposes the practice. Given this lack of consensus and the other factors mentioned in this blog, we believe that mass medication in the form of fluoride is not warranted.
Director of Water Services