Union County advances fluoride ban in its water

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — Union County commissioners are on the verge of prohibiting fluoride in the county’s water system. This will only apply to water treatment plants and systems that Union County owns and operates. That’s the Yadkin River Water Treatment plant, which is expected to come online in the coming months. It will not apply to systems Union County doesn’t have complete control over, including the Catawba River Water Supply Project, which is used by two-thirds of Union County residents.

The fluoridization of water is one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

During the Union County Commission meeting Monday night, dentists and dental professionals told county commissioners adding small levels of fluoride promotes healthy teeth and prevents decay.

“This is the single most effective way to treat tooth decay,” dentist Meg Lochary said.

Hundreds of millions of people in the US drink water containing fluoride every day. The American Academy of Pediatrics endorses it.

“I cannot fathom why we want to reject the opinions of modern medicine,” a resident told commissioners.

“People deserve the best science has to offer,” said Mark Moss, an Eastern Carolina University professor of dentistry.

Despite the testimony of medical professionals, a group of concerned residents asked Union County commissioners to go against the science.

“You should not care what the CDC recommends,” resident Maria Reid said.

“This is a significant achievement or milestone to reverse 60-plus years of poisoning the public,” resident Harold Schumacher said.

They asked leaders to reconsider this practice. Some told commissioners they view this as a decision about medical freedom.

“I don’t consent to adding fluoride to my water,” one resident said.

That call for freedom of choice and consent was echoed by most commissioners. Vice Chair Brian Helms compared adding fluoride to water to forcibly medicating residents. Helms said that just because fluoride has been in Union County’s water for dozens of years, it doesn’t make it right. He and two other members, Melissa Merrell and David Williams, voted in favor of the prohibition.

The ban won’t take effect yet. Since the vote wasn’t unanimous, they’ll have to vote again at the next meeting in two weeks.

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