A group of residents has not given up its fight to get rid of fluoride in the city water supply.
Organizer Troy M. Walts, 380 Brainard St., said he and about 15 other city residents have been working on their next step to try to persuade the city to eliminate fluoride from the water supply because they believe the colorless, tasteless additive damages teeth and causes other health problems.
Since a handful of residents attended the Nov. 19 Watertown City Council meeting, the group has tried to get other residents to oppose fluoride, which the city has added to its water since 1962.
We are continuing to try to get it out of the water supply, Mr. Walts said.
They are working on putting together a petition that they plan to put on a website. Mr. Walts has also been putting up fliers around town and the group might go door-to-door to seek support, he said.
The group intends to attend an upcoming City Council meeting to try to persuade members to remove the fluoride.
Organizers have said many teens become overexposed to the additive, causing fluorosis or such symptoms as skeletal problems and soft spots and chipping in the enamel of teeth.
Meanwhile, the pro-fluoride movement also is lobbying council members, citing its safety and the need for the additive. A couple of dentists have attended recent council meetings.
Council members received two letters in support of the material, including one from Stephen A. Jennings, senior health planner with the Jefferson County Public Health Service.
In his Nov. 29 letter, Mr. Jennings contended that the fluoride level in Watertowns water is safe, noting that the average daily level for October was 1.02 milligrams per liter. According to federal standards, the recommended level is 1.00 mg/L.
Reputable studies also continue to determine fluoridation is safe, strengthens teeth, prevents cavities and saves considerable amounts of money for families, the entire health care system, employers and health payers, he wrote.
Mr. Walts disagreed with the letter, contending it was all untrue.
In a Nov. 30 letter to the council, North Country Childrens Clinic dental services director Judith R. Overton reiterated the need for fluoridation. She said she had observed just a few cases of mild fluorosis but teeth later improved with strong enamel.
City Water Superintendent Michael J. Sligar continues to recommend its use, although he recommended that the city keep better tabs on fluoride levels and work with dentists and other professionals familiar with the issue.