News Feature | October 5, 2017

Albuquerque Reverses Water Supply Fluoridation Policy

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

loose tooth reg new

After halting the practice six years ago, Albuquerque has decided to once again add fluoride to its water supply.

“Water utility board members voted 5-2 to approve a $250,000 appropriation that will allow the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority to buy the equipment needed to resume supplemental drinking-water fluoridation,” the Albuquerque Journal reported.

“The city began supplemental fluoridation in 1972, but ended the practice in 2011 while federal officials considered new recommendations about fluoridation levels. Utility officials estimate they can resume supplemental fluoridation in six to eight months,” the report said.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) revised its fluoride guidance in 2015, calling for levels to not exceed 0.7 milligrams per liter, according to Harvard School of Public Health. It had previously been 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter.

Anti-fluoride activists tend to claim that the chemical is linked to cancer, thyroid problems, diabetes, and reduced IQ. On the other side are dentists, who say the benefits of water fluoridation are proven, encompassing disease reduction and dental treatment cost savings.

In Albuquerque, the decision “followed nearly an hour of passionate pleas by both opponents and supporters of fluoridation similar to comments expressed at two earlier public hearings on the issue,” the report said.

In Oklahoma, some communities have stopped fluoridating because of costs.

“The cost of maintaining or repairing fluoridation systems has forced some communities to stop the process, and other community water systems have never done so. About 30 percent of Oklahomans don’t receive fluoridated water from public water systems,” Enid News reported, citing Jana Winfree, the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s dental director.

Image credit: "First wiggly tooth, and very concerned," david d © 2016, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/