Columbia to remove fluoride from drinking water - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Columbia to remove fluoride from drinking water

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COLUMBIA, TN (WSMV) -

Fluoride in drinking water is something many people might take for granted. A lot of cities add the chemical for the sake of dental health and have done so for decades.

But more and more water suppliers have decided to drop fluoride, and Columbia is next to join that growing list in Middle Tennessee.

Columbia's Board of Public Utilities voted Wednesday to stop using fluoride in the water supply, which services about 27,000 customers in the city and parts of surrounding Maury County.

"We began fluoridating water in Columbia in 1960, so we've been fluoridating water for, I guess that's, 53 years," said Wes Kelley, executive director of the utilities board.

The issue surfaced this summer when the utility began re-bidding contracts for its treatment plant.

Currently, it spends about $2 per customer each year on fluoride, totaling about $45,000 annually.

"This is an issue that reasonable people can disagree on, or at least it certainly seems that way," Kelley said.

Board members received more than 200 pages of information and comments on both sides. Local dentists urged fluoridation to continue for the sake of dental health, primarily in children.

While opponents sited research, arguing the chemical can spark health problems, including bone damage and brain damage.

"You know, the board has been weighing this issue. I think some board members have changed their minds over the course of the debate. And so I think it'll be an interesting vote," Kelley said, before the vote.

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