KUNM

ABCWUA Will Not Bring Back Fluoridated Water

May 18, 2016

UPDATE 5/19: Water utility board members decided Wednesday not to add more fluoride to drinking water to promote oral health in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the board voted to cut the funding for supplemental fluoridation.

Supporters of fluoridation argue it benefits low-income people who don’t have easy access to affordable dental care. Critics of supplemental fluoridation say it creates  health risks.

The water utility stopped adding fluoride in 2011 in order to wait for new federal guidelines that were updated in 2015.  

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For the past five years, water utility officials in Albuquerque haven’t been adding supplemental fluoride to the city’s drinking water. But, city officials could decide whether to change that Wednesday at a public meeting.

The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority stopped adding fluoride to drinking water in 2011 while waiting for the federal government to update recommended levels of fluoride to promote oral health.

ABCWUA spokesman David Morris says fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral in drinking water.

"But the amount of naturally occurring fluoride here in Albuquerque," he said, "is not enough to bring us up to what the federal government considers the optimal level."

That optimal level is now 0.7 milligrams per liter. And the water authority board could vote to fund fluoridation again.

Some folks have expressed concerns that consuming more fluoride can cause health risks.

If the water authority moves forward with the fluoridation process, Morris says it could be completed in the spring or summer of next year.

Wednesday's meeting will be held at the Vincent E. Griego Chambers at 5 p.m. The agenda is posted on the ABCWUA website.