Fluoride in city's water on agenda

Iowa City Council will discuss issue at work session
Josh O'Leary

Iowa City Press Citizen
Apr. 02, 2010

Iowa City's water superintendent, backed by public health officials, is recommending that the city continue its practice of fluoridating the water supply.

A group of residents who oppose water fluoridation have urged the Iowa City Council to rethink the practice because of health and cost concerns. The council agreed earlier this year to examine the issue and will discuss water fluoridation at its work session at 6:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall.

The practice of adding fluoride to Iowa City's water supply as a means of preventing tooth decay started in 1953.

Water superintendent Ed Moreno says there have been no known incidents of illness or other adverse reactions from Iowa City's municipal water, which is treated in line with Environmental Protection Agency and Iowa Department of Public Health standards for fluoride.

"What I want to instill is that as far as the application of the fluoride we use, that we are in compliance with all the rules and regulations and doing it effectively and efficiently," Moreno said.

Moreno said the average cost to add fluoride to Iowa City's drinking water is about 29 cents per person, which based on the city's population, costs about $20,000 a year.

Mark Amberg was one of several Iowa City residents who spoke out against water fluoridation at a Jan. 12 city council meeting and is the organizer of Iowans For an End to Water Fluoridation.

Amberg argues that traces of lead and arsenic have been found in the industrial-grade fluoride that is put in the water system.

"I want to be in control of what's going into my body, and this would be one less chemical going into my body," Amberg said.

Doug Beardsley, director for Johnson County Public Health, says fluoride has been studied since the 1940s and that research has found it to be safe and effective. Beardsley said tooth decay persists as a serious health problem, particularly in lower-income populations who typically have less access to dental care.

"It's been long established that fluoride at the appropriate level significantly reduces tooth decay in populations," Beardsley said. "That's the primary benefit is that you have better oral health, and having all your teeth and healthy teeth is linked to a lot of other things."

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