The Orange Water and Sewer Authority says it will again add fluoride to its water supply beginning October 9, after about eight months without the stuff.
OWASA stopped fluoridating its water in February after too much fluoride was pumped into its treatment plant. According to OWASA, the over-fluoridated water didn’t enter the drinking water supply. Around the same time, the system experienced an unrelated, major water main break and the plant was shut down, leading to a water shortage. The OWASA board decided the next month to resume fluoridation once improvements were made at the plant. You can read more about the board’s position on fluoridation here.
Fluoride is added to public water systems to prevent tooth decay. About 75 percent of Americans are served by fluoridated water systems. The practice has been in place in Chapel Hill and Carrboro since 1964. It is backed many public health organizations as a low-cost and equitable dental health treatment.
In an statement announcing the date, OWASA says its fluoridates its water “in accordance with recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), American Dental Association, NC Division of Public Health, Orange County Board of Health and other organizations.” The authority fluoridates its water to a level of 0.7 parts per million, as recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service. The federal limit on fluoride in drinking water is 4 parts per million.
The news comes amid objections from a group called Fluoride Free Chapel Hill/Carrboro, members of which believes fluoride is harmful to health and that OWASA is unethically medicating customers without their consent by adding the substance to the water supply.
“The OWASA Board of Directors appreciates the thoughtful comments received from those who support and those who do not support fluoridation. … The primary basis for the OWASA Board’s decision is the recommendations from the agencies noted above that have the scientific data and expertise, and in some cases the statutory responsibility, to advise the public on health issues,” the statement reads.
The board will discuss fluoridation and hear public comments on the practice during its October 26 meeting.