Mark Landay, Monmouth public works foreman, shows what levels fluoride solution must be maintained at at the Monmouth-Independence water treatment plant.
March 25, 2014
MONMOUTH — Since 1971, the city of Monmouth has added fluoride to its water supply. Now, Councilman Steve Milligan is trying to have it removed.
“I’m pro-choice,” Milligan said at the March 18 council meeting. “I think (the citizens of Monmouth) should have a choice to ingest fluoride or not.”
Monmouth’s water supply contains 0.86 parts per million of fluoride, according to the 2013 water quality test results. The maximum contaminant level is 4, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Milligan said there is no recommended daily dosage of fluoride, only maximum recommendations.
“The total amount of fluoride you get every day includes what you get from foods, beverages and supplements,” Milligan said. “How do we quantify how much we consume in a day?”
He said the city spends $4,200 a year on adding fluoride to the water. Out of an estimated 445 million gallons of water used per year by Monmouth citizens, only about 2 to 5 percent is consumed, he said.
“How much of the $4,200 we spend each year is actually used for its intended use: getting fluoride in the mouths of people?” Milligan asked.
Monmouth City Council
He estimated only about $54 worth of fluoride is consumed in the water, while the rest is used for cleaning dishes and clothes, taking showers, flushing toilets and watering lawns.
“We’re throwing away a huge amount of fluoride in ways that it’s not intended for,” he said.
Milligan said fluoride is classified as a poison by the Material Safety Data Sheets, and that it is a hazardous product for human health and the aquatic environment.
Councilwoman Cec Koontz said other things added to Monmouth’s water supply can also be classified as toxic, such as chlorine, which was detected at 0.75 parts per million in the 2013 water quality report. But chlorine is necessary to prevent microbial contamination, she said.
Councilman Jon Carey said he read a number of articles on fluoride and its purported health benefits and risks prior to the council meeting.
“Clearly if you have a heavy dose of darn near anything, you have a problem,” Carey said. “I believe there’s a risk of nearly everything, but you have to look at risk versus reward. The risk is so low, and the benefit is perceived to be in excess of that.”
Position papers published by the Centers for Disease Control were clear that exhaustive studies see the health benefits far outweighing the potential negative benefits, Carey said.
Mayor John Oberst said studies have shown fluoride helps grow stronger teeth, and is particularly useful to those with lower incomes.
He said anything at a high enough dose can be toxic, even oxygen.
“How small of a toxin do you want me to take,” Milligan asked. “I don’t want to take a toxin.”
Oberst suggested the council could discuss the matter further at its goal setting session Saturday at 8:45 a.m. at the University House, 386 Stadium Drive S., in Monmouth.