Town considers fluoride-free future

BOURBON — Water/wastewater department head Mike Shoda came before the Bourbon Town Council Tuesday with the idea to stop adding fluoride to the town’s public water supply. According to Shoda, fluoride in water may not be actually necessary and taking it out could save the town about $2,000 per year. Shoda also mentioned that he had spoken with the water department head in Walkerton — a town which has already ceased the addition of fluoride to their water — about the issue.
“There’s no law that says we need fluoride in the water,” said Shoda.
Fluoride is a compound generally added to public water supplies with the intent to reduce tooth decay. There is some naturally occurring fluoride in water, but additional fluoride has been added to public water supplies in the United States since the 1940s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC also recognized water fluoridation as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century. However, the Indiana Department of Environmental Man-agement (IDEM) recently recommended a change in the level of fluoride in public water because there are now many other sources of fluoride such as toothpaste and mouthwashes.
Donnie Davidson, Ply-mouth utility superintendent, said that Plymouth does add fluoride to city water and will continue doing so in the foreseeable future.
“We are waiting to get guidance from our regulatory agency at this point, which is IDEM,” said Davidson. “There have been indications that people are getting enough fluoride from (other sources). We have no plans to eliminate (fluoride), but it would be a cost savings if we did.”
Mike Mettler, director of the Environmental Public Health Division at the Indiana State Department of Health, said that there is no state code requiring water fluoridation. However, he added that approximately 94 percent of Indiana residents served by public drinking water systems are drinking fluoridated water.
“The safety and effectiveness of the fluoridation of water for preventing dental decay has been extensively studied,” said Mettler. “The overwhelming evidence indicates that the fluoridation of water for preventing dental decay is both safe and effective.”
In Bourbon, about five to 10 bags of fluoride are added to the water each year at the cost of $85 per bag, according to Shoda. Additionally, costs relating to equipment and maintenance could be reduced if the town were to decide to discontinue fluoride in the water. Town council members requested to table the discussion until they could do further research on the issue.