Hampton considering taking fluoride out of tap water
Written by Kera Mashek, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
HAMPTON (KWWL) -
What's in your water? That's what the mayor in Hampton thinks residents should consider -- and whether it's worth what he believes to be the possible risks of adding fluoride to the drinking water.
When asked if he drinks the city's water, Hampton Mayor Shawn Dietz was blunt.
"Actually, I don't," Dietz said.
It's a person choice Mayor Dietz makes, because he doesn't like what's going into the water in his own city.
For decades, Hampton — like a lot of other cities — has added fluoride to the tap. But Dietz is convinced it's not necessary.
"Whether you believe that fluoride is a good additive or not, whether you think it's something parents and children should have added or not, I think the question is: What's the proper role of government to play in that?" Dietz said. "Obviously my philosophy is it's not the proper role of government to decide what kinds of medicines or supplements we're putting into our bodies."
For nearly 40 years, the CDC has recommended cities add fluoride to drinking water to help prevent tooth decay. Right now, 72 percent of communities in the U.S. have fluoridated water.
Dietz said that, now that the city's budget is passed, taking fluoride out of Hampton's tap water is his new priority. Fluoridation costs Hampton $6,000 a year, and it would cost about that much to replace fluoridation equipment if it ever broke down.
"I think it's something worth talking about," said Dietz. "It's worth having the discussions. It's worth the debate."
But local dentists don't agree that fluoride should be turned off. They know what happens with non-fluoridated water.
"Seven, eight years ago, the dentists started seeing a big increase in decay," said Dr. Paul Sensor, a Hampton dentist. "We couldn't figure out why -- it was still showing we were having fluoride. Then we found out a city worker had turned it off a few years before."
Dr. Sensor believes the fluoride debate comes down to simple fact-finding, and what information you choose to believe.
For him, there's no question. He said research repeatedly shows perks for fluoride in water.
"The better the health of your teeth, (the more) we're seeing greater relationships to other parts of the body," said Sensor. "And there's no reason to do this to our public (just) because somebody read some scary stuff on the Internet that had no real basis."
The drinking water debate isn't going away. City council members will do their own homework on the fluoride issue over the next few weeks. Then they'll decide whether to repeal the current city ordinance requiring it in the water.
Cities aren't required to put fluoride into drinking water, but the U.S. Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and American Dental Associations all recommend it.
You can learn more about your own community's water fluoridation status by clicking here.
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