News Feature | November 19, 2014

Fluoridation Up For Debate In Wisconsin's Capital City

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

teeth.reg

Wisconsin's capital city is wading into one of the water sector's most controversial questions: Should it fluoridate its water?

The city's water supply has been fluoridated since the 1940s, but the issue went up for discussion at recent water board meetings.

"Public Health Madison and Dane County recommended continuing adding fluoride to the city's drinking water supply, at the current 0.7 parts per million rate," Madison.com reported.

The report spelled out the benefits of fluoride.

"The use of water fluoridation has provided an effective and cost-efficient method to deliver preventative services to promote oral health to all residents within a community served by municipal water supplies, regardless of socioeconomic status or access to care," the report said.

The document was drawn up to address ongoing concerns about fluoride.

"A debate exists concerning the potential health risks of water fluoridation versus the observed benefit of the intervention. As a result, Public Health Madison & Dane County occasionally receives phone calls, emails, and letters from residents expressing concern about the fluoridation of local water supplies," the report said.

The report also laid out the arguments against fluoride

"Opponents of water fluoridation of community water supplies cite two major issues to question the effectiveness of the program; a comparable reduction in dental caries in non-fluoridated communities and the improved availability of fluoride-containing products make the treatment of community drinking water unnecessary," the report said.

Fluoride issues boil up periodically in various municipalities. In Arkansas, municipalities are working to comply with a fluoride mandate from the state.

"In 2011, state legislators passed a law requiring water systems serving 5,000 or more customers to fluoridate their public water when funding became available," the Times Record reported.

Fort Smith is one city working to implement that policy.

"In August, the Fort Smith Board of Directors agreed to accept a $1.8 million grant from the Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation to cover startup costs associated with adding fluoride to the water system," the report said.

For more on policy and politics, check out Water Online's Regulations & Legislation Solution Center.

Image credit: "Teefs!," makelessnoise © 2009, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/