The City of Ormond Beach is required to add fluoride to water per a City ordinance from 1957. Is it still relevant?
This year, the City of Ormond Beach received no bids for hydrofluosilicic acid, a chemical used to fluoridate city water supplies.
City Commissioner Troy Kent said this is the first time this has happened in his 14 years of service. He spoke out against the consent item during last week's City Commission meeting on Sept. 19, and urged the rest of the commissioners to think about whether or not water fluoridation should remain an ordinance in the City code. While City Commissioner Rob Littleton raised some financial concerns regarding adding fluoride to the city's water supply, the item was approved 4-1 with Kent voting against.
“It was amazing to me that there were no bids, which is why I’m saying we need to change the ordinance in Ormond because right now it makes us do that," Kent said. "But if there’s no bids for it, listen, don’t add the stuff to the water.”
The ordinance in question dates back to 1957 and section 11-1b reads that "the utilities division of the city is hereby directed to provide the means and to proceed with the introduction of fluorine into the water supply in accordance with the provisions of this section and as directed by and in accordance with the regulations of the state pertaining to the fluoridation of public water supplies."
City Attorney Randy Hayes said at the City Commission meeting that this ordinance was a by-product of voter referendum.
"Back in that era of course, this was a pretty hot topic and I think that was a means of letting the community have a voice in it," Hayes said.
Hayes said if the ordinance was put in place to make sure the City went through the measures required to have hydrofluosilicic acid available should the Commission choose to add it to the water supply. Kent proposed the ordinance be repealed, and if the Commission still wanted to add it to the water, they could discuss it at a policy level.
"If the city of Ormond Beach ceased to add fluoride to its water supply we will likely see an increase in dental decay," said local dentist Dr. Daniel Drake in an email. "An increase in dental decay will no doubt lead to an increase in dental pain, out of pockets expenses, and at worst, a decrease in quality of life for those affected."
He said fluoridation in city water supplies has been named by the Centers for Disease Control as one of 10 great health achievements of the 20th century, and that appropriate fluoride use in community water supplies has been proven to reduce decay by maintaining the minerals in teeth.
Another concern raised by Kent involves traces of arsenic in hydrofluosilicic acid. Tech data sheets found in the agenda items of the meeting from the three chemical suppliers the city sought out showed minimal levels of arsenic, ranging from less than 10 parts per million to 50 parts per million.
“We should never, ever, be consuming arsenic, and for us to be putting it in the water supply with the hydrofluosilicic acid, is unacceptable to me," Kent said.
His concerns regarding fluoride began about seven years ago, prompting him to write a letter to Harcros, the chemical supplier for the city's supply of hydrofluosilicic acid, asking to see the material safety data sheet on the chemical. His letter was never answered. Kent also sent the same letter to the 47 other chemical suppliers in the U.S.
None of them responded.
At the City Commission meeting, Kent called fluoride a "medicine at best, and a poison at worst," and raised the question of whether or not city water supplies should be a means to medicate people. Kent's answer is no.
Drake said fluoride has good benefits but also has the potential for harm.
"The same can be said for Chlorine, which is used in our water supply as a disinfectant, and essentially any other element or substance."
In the email, Drake said the definition of medicine is a substance used to treat or prevent disease.
"Tooth decay is in fact a disease and infection of the tooth or teeth," Drake said. "Because fluoride has been shown to strengthen and re-mineralize our teeth, and in some cases reverse decay, then it can be argued that properly fluoridated water has medicinal properties and is an absolute must for our communities."
Fred Costello, former Ormond Beach Mayor and current dentist, said in an email that research supports adding fluoride to city water supplies in areas where the "amount of naturally occurring fluoride is less than the amount occurring in naturally fluoridated areas that has resulted in a lower rate of decayed and missing teeth."
"My position has not changed," Costello said. "However, I am not pleased that the companies providing fluoride to Ormond Beach have not bothered to respond to Commissioner Kent's reasonable request that they provide Material Safety Data Sheets for the fluoride ordered by Ormond Beach."