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Sat, Aug. 24

Bisbee’s decision to remove fluoride from water criticized

BISBEE, Arizona (AP) – Public health officials are warning Bisbee residents that they may be more susceptible to cavities after city officials removed fluoride from the southern Arizona city's water supply.

Fluoride levels fell well below the federally recommended level of 0.7 milligrams per liter after the move earlier this year, the Arizona Daily Star reported earlier this week.

Nationwide, more communities are opting to fluoridate their water supplies, said Kevin Earle, the executive director for the Arizona Dental Association.

Earle's organization sent a letter to Bisbee council members following their February decision and asked them to reconsider, he said.

"It is definitely not a reasoned and rational public policy decision. Ultimately we believe it is going to hurt children," Earle said.

Earle's organization has not received a response, he said.

Many public health officials, including Will Humble, the executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association, point to evidence which shows that fluoridated water strengthens teeth.

"It's just sad when you see a community purposely decide to reduce the oral health of their residents. But we live in a democracy and I guess that's what they want."

Bisbee city officials stand by their decision, which received unanimous support from City Council members.

Councilman Gabe Lindstrom told the council that some research showed fluoride is potentially harmful to ingest, and he worried about fluoride's long-term effects, according to minutes from the meeting.

Products like fluoridated mouthwash, toothpaste and foods processed with fluoride means fluoride is not necessary in community water supplies, city officials said in February.

A little more than half of Arizona residents are served by fluoridated water supply, the Oral Health Project found.

Tucson and Flagstaff are among the Arizona governments that do not fluoridate their water supplies, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Bisbee Mayor David Smith told the Star last week that he has not received any negative feedback on the decision to remove fluoride and continues to be satisfied with the council's decision.

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