Fluoride OK'd for Albuquerque water supply - Albuquerque Journal

Fluoride OK’d for Albuquerque water supply

Fluoride again will be added to Albuquerque’s water supply.

Water utility board members voted 5-2 Wednesday to approve a $250,000 appropriation that will allow the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority to buy the equipment needed to resume supplemental drinking-water fluoridation, which the utility halted in 2011.

The decision followed nearly an hour of passionate pleas by both opponents and supporters of fluoridation similar to comments expressed at two earlier public hearings on the issue.

“At the end of the day, when there’s a question about science, we need to listen to the scientists,” board member and Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis said before he voted in favor of resuming fluoridation. Davis withdrew his proposal for an advisory question on the 2018 general election ballot that would have asked Bernalillo County voters whether they support or oppose supplemental fluoridation.

Voting against the appropriation were Albuquerque Councilors Klarissa Peña and Trudy Jones. Joining Davis in support were Bernalillo County Commissioners Debbie O’Malley, Wayne Johnson and Maggie Hart Stebbins and Albuquerque’s Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry, who represents Mayor Richard Berry on the board.

“I’m just philosophically opposed to this,” Jones said in explaining her opposition to fluoridation. “I don’t think at any time the government should add something to our water if some people don’t want it.”

Jones’ remarks echoed those of several opponents who told the board that people who want fluoride can obtain it from commercial products such as toothpaste and mouthwash and from fluoride treatments provided by dentists, but the water utility shouldn’t force fluoride on people who believe they are harmed by it.

“There are health concerns that people talked about,” Peña said. “For people with kidney disease there’s a lot of concern about fluoride.”

Peña also said she was troubled that supporters pitch drinking water fluoridation as a way of helping low-income children. “To me it’s an assumption that lower-income children don’t brush their teeth,” she said.

The measure approved Wednesday requires the utility to maintain fluoride levels between 0.65 and 0.72 milligrams per liter in the public water supply.

Fluoride is a mineral found naturally in Albuquerque’s water supply at levels of about 0.4 to 0.5 milligram per liter, according to a report prepared by the utility staff.

The city began supplemental fluoridation in 1972, but ended the practice in 2011 while federal officials considered new recommendations about fluoridation levels.

In 2015, the U.S. Public Health Service updated the federal drinking water standards, recommending that community water systems add fluoride to 0.7 milligrams per liter to prevent tooth decay. That recommendation prompted the utility to reconsider fluoridation during budget discussions earlier this year.

Opponents cite a variety of concerns, from health problems to human rights concerns. One speaker said fluoridation aggravates her thyroid problems.

Supporters champion water fluoridation as a public-health measure to prevent tooth decay. The American Dental Association calls community water fluoridation “the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay.”

“We have had 70 years of fluoridation without any health effects,” Rudy Blea, the New Mexico Department of Health’s director of oral health told the board. “Providing fluoridated water to your customers is good public health policy.”

Utility officials estimate they can resume supplemental fluoridation in six to eight months.

Home » News » Albuquerque News » Fluoride OK’d for Albuquerque water supply


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Rain or shine, students fight for normalcy
ABQnews Seeker
Homecoming returns after years of pandemic ... Homecoming returns after years of pandemic impacts
2
NM to be part of 'clean freight corridor'
ABQnews Seeker
Hydrogen network could power trucks throughout ... Hydrogen network could power trucks throughout Southwest
3
Judge was a 'very generous and caring person'
ABQnews Seeker
Friends and colleagues describe Judge James ... Friends and colleagues describe Judge James A. Parker as a gentleman
4
Climate-fueled wildfires worsen dangers for struggling fish
ABQnews Seeker
A summer-long mission comes to a ... A summer-long mission comes to a quick end as cutthroat trout rescued earlier this year are released into new digs
5
Stewart moves to oust Ivey-Soto from committee post
ABQnews Seeker
Sexual harassment allegations against him behind ... Sexual harassment allegations against him behind the action
6
APD arrests suspect in killing outside Calvary Church
ABQnews Seeker
Victim a security guard and former ... Victim a security guard and former Bernalillo County Fire Rescue commander
7
New Mexico allows funds for prosecutions in 'Rust' shooting
ABQnews Seeker
DA declines to name potential targets DA declines to name potential targets
8
Electric demand to outpace capacity for New Mexico utilities
ABQnews Seeker
Blackouts feared for 2023, 2024 seasons Blackouts feared for 2023, 2024 seasons
9
Diversity on full display in Corrales Pet Mayor race
ABQnews Seeker
Only two days to cast your ... Only two days to cast your ballots in the race that features eight political animals