After many California cities have had fluoride in their water supply for years, San Jose will finally join them.
Until this month, San Jose has been the largest city in the country without fluoride in its drinking water. San Francisco has had fluoride since 1951, Oakland has had it since 1976, and all the other major California cities have had it. Only residents of San Jose have been drinking fluoride-free water for years.
“It’s a social justice issue,” said Fred Ferrer, CEO of Health Trust, a nonprofit that funds Silicon Valley health programs. “The richest kids in Palo Alto have had fluoride for years, but the kids in East San Jose haven’t.”
According to The Mercury News, dental and health professionals from the Santa Clara County Public Health Department and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital have been pushing fluoride for years. Dentists have stated that fluoride can reduce high rates of cavities in low-income children with limited access to dental care.
“We see kids in elementary school coming in with rampant cavities, abscessed teeth and root canals,” Ferrer added. “When you have that kind of pain, usually you can’t eat well, or sleep well. You can’t pay attention in school.”
The Health Trust is help funding the water upgrade by donating $1 million.
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Pediatric Dentistry found that more than 65% of parents that purchase bottled water were not aware of the fluoride levels contained within.
NBC Bay Area reports that although many parents and dental professionals are happy with the addition of fluoride to San Jose’s water supply, there are groups that strongly oppose the decision, however.
Safe Pure Water has filed a lawsuit against the Santa Clara Valley Water District in an attempt to prevent the agency from adding fluoride to the city’s water supply.
“There’s enough things in our diet that are toxic,” said Keith Howe of Safe Pure Water. “I don’t need to add to it with toxic fluoride and other things in the water. Fluoride is absorbed through the skin, doing dishes as well as when you’re drinking water.”
Department of Health officer Lisa Hernandez disagrees with Howe and states that fluoride presents no danger to the community.
“Public health has for a long time supported fluoridation,” she said. “It is effective, safe, and it reduces tooth decay and protects the community as whole.”