Town officials have quietly reduced fluoride in water for years


RICHMOND, Vermont (AP) — Residents of a small Vermont community were caught off guard last month by the news that an employee at their water department quietly lowered fluoride levels nearly four years ago. It highlights persistent misinformation about water fluoridation.

Katie Mather, who lives in Richmond, a town of about 4,100 people in northwest Vermont, said at a Water Board meeting this week that her dentist recently found the first cavities in her two children. rice field. She admitted they were eating a lot of sugar, but her dentist recommended not supplementing with fluoride, she said, because the water in town should be doing the trick.

Her dentist “was giving professional advice based on state standards that we all assumed were met, but they weren’t,” Mather said. said Mr. “The fact that she didn’t have the opportunity to provide consent stuck with me.”

During the 1940s and 1950s, fluoridating public drinking water systems was routine in communities across the United States, but remains unacceptable and unfeasible for some people. Many countries do not fluoridate water for various reasons, including gender.

Critics argue that the health effects of fluoride are not fully understood and that adding fluoride to tap water can be an undesirable drug. Some communities in recent years have ended the practice. In 2015, the U.S. government Reduced recommended amount After some children drank too much, it got into their drinking water and caused white spots on their teeth.

While such spots are primarily a cosmetic problem, the American Dental Association notes on its website that fluoride, along with life-giving substances such as salt, iron and oxygen, can be toxic in large amounts. I point out that there is

However, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recommended amount of fluoride reduces cavities and cavities by about 25%. In 2018, 73% of the U.S. population reportedly had a properly fluoridated water system. Protect your teeth. So I was shocked to hear that the water was not up to standard for some people in Richmond.

Kendall Chamberlin, Richmond’s water and wastewater superintendent, told the Water and Wastewater Commission in September that he had lowered fluoride levels because of concerns about changes in fluoride sources and recommended levels.

He said he was concerned about the quality control of fluoride used in the US beverage system. Because it’s from China.

And he said he doesn’t think the state-recommended levels of fluoride are currently justified.

“My duty is to exercise reasonable care and judgment to protect public health, safety and the environment of our customers,” he said, adding that “it is not a bad position to be careless.” .

Chamberlin did not respond to an Associated Press email requesting comment.

Two of the three fluoride additives available for use in U.S. water systems are actually made in China, as there are no domestic manufacturers, but all are stringent to ensure safety. It has been standardized, tested and certified, CDC spokesperson Tracy Boehmer said in an email. A spokesperson for the Vermont Department of Health agreed that all additives must meet these national standards.

Chamberlain’s decision surprised residents and doctors.

“It is inappropriate for one person to unilaterally make a decision that this public health benefit may not be justified. spoke at the meeting. He said he has an eight-month-old granddaughter and thinks he’s drinking enough fluoridated water.

“Fluoride is one of the most successful and important public health measures ever implemented in this country,” said Knowles. “Dental disease reduction is indisputable. Safety cannot be established based on one person’s opinion or one study, this or that.”

Most water naturally contains some fluoride, but usually not enough to prevent tooth decay.

This mineral was first added to public water bodies in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1945. Oregon, New Jersey, and Hawaii have the lowest percentages of residents using fluoridated water, according to the United Health Foundation.

Fluoride is also added to toothpaste and other topical products, and is also found in some foods.

According to the Vermont Department of Health, in sparsely populated and largely rural Vermont, 29 of the 465 public water systems are voluntarily fluoridated, reducing the number of residents served by the public system. Just over half use fluoridated water. State standard levels are based on federal recommendations.

Townships that use fluoridation must maintain levels within the state’s recommended range and submit monthly reports to the state health department.

The state’s former fluoride program manager, who retired in 2019, tried to work with Chamberlin and his team in Richmond, wrote in an email to the AP.

Miller said he didn’t realize until March of this year that the town’s fluoride levels had been consistently low for so long. With levels not improving after a state visit to the site in April, Miller said she contacted Richmond town administrators in June and was asked to attend a meeting in September. Told.

At the second meeting on Monday when Katie Mather voiced her concerns about her children’s teeth, Chamberlain (who doesn’t live in town and has appeared online) read a statement of apology.

“There are no words to describe what has caused this controversy,” he said. “Trust me when I say I only had good intentions based on misunderstandings. I promise to make sure this never happens again.”

A former Richmond employee who worked under Chamberlain noted that monthly reports are reviewed by town management and go to the state.

“It’s not just one guy doing what he wants. He submits these reports to his bosses, who sign them,” says Eric Bailey, now Johnson’s village administrator. said.

Town manager Josh Arneson said Chamberlain and other staff members always told him the levels were acceptable. He said he first heard from the state in June about the consistently low levels.

The committee voted to revert the water to full fluoridation. It’s not clear if anyone could face professional repercussions. Personnel matters were discussed in a closed session.