Addition of fluoride to Valparaiso water clears hurdle
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent August 7, 2014 9:58PM
Updated: September 10, 2014 6:07AM
VALPARAISO — The city should continue to add fluoride to the drinking water, according to Valparaiso City Utilities Fluoride Commission.
On Thursday, the Commission voted 5-2 to recommend that action to the City Utilities Board.
The Commission also voted unanimously that the city should reconsider fluoride at least every five years, and more often if significant research becomes public.
The recommendation and resulting report should appear before the Utility Board on Aug. 26 and then for a vote before the City Council on Sept. 8 if the Utilities Board recommends it.
The Commission made its decision after six meetings starting in May, including two with experts from both sides giving evidence on safety and use to prevent cavities.
“This is by no means an easy decision,” said Mark Thiros, who is on the Utilities Board and the Commission.
Thiros and Jennifer Waldo, a nurse and mother, voted not to continue adding fluoride.
Although Thiros thinks the level of fluoride the city puts into water is safe and topical fluoride is beneficial, government doesn’t have to add it and doesn’t add beneficial substances.
“Our only mandate is to provide safe and clean drinking water,” he said.
Waldo said she was concerned municipalities can’t get pharmaceutical grade fluoride and there may be a slight risk for bone cancer and IQ loss.
With fluoride in toothpaste and elsewhere, she doesn’t expect a cavity boom without it, she said.
Neuropsychology professor Judith Harrington felt research that showed harm didn’t show a difference and that it isn’t in the city’s best interest to stop using it.
Valparaiso University chemistry professor John Schoer, attorney Kevin Steele and Utilities Board Director David Bengs felt the $35,000 spent a year on fluoridation for about 40,000 people was cost effective.
Bengs compared access to fluoride with access to smart phones and MP3 players, something not everybody has.
City Council Liaison Tim Daly said he saw no evidence the current levels were harmful and that fluoride provides benefits.
Commission members noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dropped fluoride recommendations from 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter of water to 0.7 milligrams as fluoride is more accessible, and Valparaiso should adapt to any future changes, too.
Schoer said he could see municipalities not needing to add fluoride in the future.