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The future of our water

Fluoridation of Keizer’s water has risen as an issue before the city council, but not for the reasons of the past.  In the middle of the last century, when cities wanted to add fluoride to the their water systems, a cry rose up that it was a communist plot and it was unAmerican.  Of course it was not a communist plot and the argument can be made that the teeth of millions of children are healthier due to the fluoride they receive via their water.

In a work session this week councilors heard from both sides of the fluoridation debate.  City Council Richard Walsh is pushing for the city to cease adding fluoride to the city’s water system for both health and financial reason.

The city of Keizer spends approximately $50,000 a year to add fluoride to the water system.  An update of the system can push that to $80,000 a year.  Walsh says that the city can better spend that money in other areas such as law enforcement or city amenities.  The council is scheduled to pick up the issue again at its Oct. 18 meeting.

Before taking a final vote the city council needs to be sure it has all the information to make a decision.  It’s nice to hear from dentists but the councilors need to hear from scientists and experts who can expound on fluoride’s effect on health.

Adding fluoride to city water is an relatively inexpensive way to maintain our citizen’s dental health, especially those in lower income brackets who may not be able to make regular visits to the dentist. But there many ways to get fluoride besides water:  fluoride supplements and toothpaste, for example.

Those testifying against fluoridation say that it can be a danger to those with thyroid and other problems.  How many people are adversely affected by fluoride?  How much does someone have to ingest each day before it is a danger—four glasses?  A gallon?  Several gallons?

Who drinks water from the tap?  Does the proliferation of bottled water in our society mean fewer people rely on the city water for drinking?  Who does fluoride help?  Experts say that fluoride is beneficial to the dental health of the young aged from about four to early teens, especially those in lower incomes.  We want to see citizens stay healthy but when it can adversely affect even a small percentage of them it makes sense to stop and take a serious look at fluoride in our lives today.

Fluoride is not a plot, but when it is harmful and the money can be spent in other areas, it is time to give the entire discussion a 21st century make over.