08/18/05 — Health board wants fluoride back in water

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Health board wants fluoride back in water

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 18, 2005 1:54 PM

The Wayne County Board of Health voted Wednesday to ask the city of Goldsboro to resume adding fluoride to its water supply.

Board member Charles T. "Tommy" Gibson made the motion, saying the benefits of putting fluoride in the water far outweigh the risks.

Health Director Jim Roosen said would present the request to the city manager.

The city stopped putting fluoride in its water in June, following the release of a report by university health officials that indicated potential problems with lead contamination when fluoridated water interacts with chloramines, which are injected into the water to purify it.

Karen Brashear, the director of the city's public utilities department, said stopping fluoridation was a temporary precaution and said at the time that there were no indications of problems with Goldsboro's water supply.

Roosen told health board members he was glad he was not a water treatment operator.

"Public utilities directors are under a lot of scrutiny, so I understand why they have a problem" with research findings that pose questions about health issues, he said.

Roosen said there has since been discussion by the American Dental Association and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the fluoridation issue.

"It's hard to correlate a lab result with what's happening out there in the pipes," he said.

Roosen said he had spoken recently with Ms. Brashear and believes her staff has done a good job of corrosion control and sampling. He said he was told that she had sent letters to the state health director asking for guidance.

Roosen said he had also spoken with representatives from the state's Oral Health Section. Although he has received nothing in writing, he said, the recommendation from the office was that the city's water should continue to be fluoridated.

"Based on what I have seen with sampling, I would say it's pretty low risk," he said, of the possibility of lead contamination.

He said the city of Greenville has discovered higher levels of lead in its water supply and there was speculation of some elevated blood levels in children, with laboratories enlisted to try to figure out what is happening to the water chemistry there.

Still, he said, Greenville has not discontinued its fluoridation program and that he feels safe in recommending Goldsboro resume its program.

Health board member Terry Frazier said he appreciated the challenge faced by Ms. Brashear's office, but added, "there's a price to not fluoridating."

Fluorides are added to drinking water to help prevent tooth decay, especially in children. The practice has been commonplace across the U.S. for decades.