Florida County Stops Water Fluoridation

Laird Harrison

October 07, 2011

October 7, 2011 — Florida's Pinellas County Commission voted on Tuesday to stop fluoridating the community water supply after hearing from residents opposed to government health mandates, according to news reports.

Despite testimony from dentists, the commission voted 4 to 3 to remove the mineral from the water supplied to about 700,000 residents, Tampabay.com reported.

"I don't think the county government should be telling people they have to have fluoride in the water," said Commissioner John Morroni, according to the newspaper.

Dentists and other public health officials said fluoridation, which costs the county about $205,000 a year, results in an overall savings because of the reduced cost of treating caries.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends community water fluoridation and has called such programs "one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century." However, the agency changed its recommendation January 7, 2011, from a range of 0.7 to 1.2 mg to 0.7 mg of fluoride per liter of water, citing a risk for fluorosis in children aged 8 years and younger. Pinellas currently adds 0.8 mg/L, according to the newspaper.

Pinellas County Utilities estimates that this concentration of fluoride reduces cavities in children by 60%, and in adults by 35%. The utility only began adding fluoride to its water in 2004, but local dentists already were noticing health benefits, Palm Harbor dentist Oscar Menendez, president of the Upper Pinellas Dental Society, told the newspaper. "Over the last 4 years, it's been just an incredible change, an incredible change."

But public opinion has shifted since then, said Morroni, citing opposition to the federal 2010 healthcare reform act.

Reversing its position on fluoride puts the county in opposition to the mainstream of the past 20 years. In 2008, the latest statistic available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 72.4% of public utility water in the United States was fluoridated, up from 60.5% in 1988.

Opponents said that fluoride could cause brain damage and was part of a dangerous plot. "Fluoride is a toxic substance," Tea Party activist Tony Caso said, according to the newspaper. "This is all part of an agenda that's being pushed forth by the so-called globalists in our government...to keep the people stupid so they don't realize what's going on."

Other large cities in Florida have no plans to follow Pinellas County's example, Tampabay.com reported. St. Petersburg, which is within Pinellas County, supplies its own water and fluoridates it.

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