A controversy over 70 years in the making was brought before Collier County commissioners Tuesday, when one commissioner's assistant petitioned the board to stop fluoride from being added to the county's water supply. The additive has been in the county's drinking water since the 1940's.
Camden Smith, assistant to Commissioner Tom Henning, made a presentation to the board to make her case that the health risks of adding fluoride to the water outweigh the benefits of cavity prevention. She cited figures from the Centers for Disease Control addressing an increase in fluorosis, a breakdown in tooth enamel.
"Dental fluorosis is at a higher rate than ever in children 12 to 15," Smith said. "Cavities still occur in children and adults, despite water fluoridation."
Dr. Johnny Johnson of the Florida Dental Association said that many studies have shown otherwise.
"Fluoridation of the water at the recommended level of 0.7 parts per million is not a single health issue for anyone," Johnson said. "We have been fluoridating the water in the United States for almost 72 years."
Karen Beatty, a Collier County resident since 1977, came to the board to show her support for the petition to get rid of the additive. She said it isn't just about preventing cavities.
"Since moving here, I have developed thyroid disease, an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto's thyroiditis," Beatty said. "My health care practitioner has told me that fluoride probably contributed to that."
"Community water fluoridation is safe for everyone to drink," Johnson said. "It causes no adverse health effects."
This isn't the first time the issue has come up - the commission voted to keep fluoride in the water in 2011. But they decided that they will discuss the matter in-depth at a future meeting.