Fluoridation of water resumes with both support and concern

A number of local activists took to the sidewalks outside of Chapel Hill Town Hall on the evening of Thursday, August 24th, to protest the OWASA board's continued fluoridation of Orange County water sources.

If the tap water this summer has tasted slightly different, it’s because it was not being fluoridated by the Orange Water And Sewage Authority. However, as of this past Monday, OWASA resumed putting fluoride into the water. 

Fluoride is the chemical that most toothpaste companies put in their toothpaste to help clean and whiten teeth.

“As you probably know, the purpose of fluoridation is to protect public health,” said OWASA public affairs administrator, Greg Feller. 

In a news release, OWASA said they fluoridate their water to promote dental health, under recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, American Dental Association, NC Division of Public Health, Orange County Board of Health and other organizations.

The fluoridation of drinking water has become a hot topic in recent years, as a recent study has demonstrated a possible link between high levels of fluoride and a loss of IQ. 

OWASA has received many comments both for and against water fluoridation. They said in a press release they continue to invite public comment about fluoridation.

Places such as the CDC recommend placing trace amounts of fluoride in drinking water to promote dental health and calls widespread U.S. water fluoridation one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the past century. 

Local groups such as the Fluoride Free Chapel Hill/Carrboro are not happy about fluoride being put back into the water. 

“It’s a toxic byproduct that’s being put into our water without our consent,” said Marcela Slade, a local parent and member of Fluoride Free CH/C. 

Not all countries fluoridate their water. In fact, most European countries do not fluoridate public tap water and drinking water due to ethical or medical considerations. 

“The fluoride that is being put into our water is not actually the organic fluoride that rolls off stones. OWASA itself has told us it’s the hydrofluosilicic acid that is the byproduct—  toxic waste— of the aluminum industry and quartz mining,” Slade said. 

Groups such as the CDC and EPA have concluded that hydrofluosilicic acid is not damaging when dispersed in low levels throughout drinking water.  

Chapel Hill resident Jason Glassbrook seems to agree. 

“From what I know about fluoride, the levels that they typically put in the water are safe and not causing issues for anyone,” Glassbrook said. “I don’t really have a problem with it.”



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