AVON PARK - Citing "no quality control," City Manager Julian Deleon has stopped the injection of fluoride into the city's drinking water.
Deleon said he contacted the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to request permission to discontinue the fluoridation practice. The fluoride injection system has technology problems, he said.
The water demand drops off "drastically" during the very early morning hours such as around 2 a.m., Deleon noted.
The problem is that the fluoride injection pump has a fixed speed so when water demand is low it continues to pump the same amount of fluoride as during the periods of peak demand, he said.
"Based on my evaluation, we have no quality control over fluoride injection into the water," Deleon said.
Adding fluoride to drinking water to fight tooth decay has been a controversial issue in many parts of the world for years. There have been recent news reports over the fluoride debate from Alberta, Canada (Lethbridge Herald) and New South Wales, Australia (Sydney Morning News).
A "concerned constitute" contacted State Rep. Cary Pigman, R-Avon Park about the Avon Park fluoride issue.
An email from Pigman's office to Deleon asked if it was true that the water would no longer be fluoridated?
Deleon replied to Pigman's office, "As a professional engineer in the State of Florida, I did not deem the system capable of providing adequate quality control and safeguards in the injection of fluoride into the water supply."
Deleon's email included a link to 50 Reasons to Oppose Fluoride by the Fluoride Action Network at fluoridealert.org.
The network states that the dose cannot be controlled.
Once fluoride is put in the water it is impossible to control the dose each individual receives because people drink different amounts of water. Being able to control the dose a patient receives is critical, according to the FAC. Some people, such as manual laborers, athletes, diabetics and people with kidney disease, drink substantially more water than others.
Deleon explained to Highlands Today that the city operates three water treatment plants, but only the plant at the airport was injecting fluoride into the water.
It would take a hydraulic modeling study to determine what areas of the city received the fluoride, but based on his "best judgement" it appears that everyone north of Main Street was getting fluoride, Deleon said.
Everyone south of Main Street probably was not getting fluoride because there is no fluoride injection at the Glenwood Avenue nor the Crystal Lake water plants, he said.
Deleon briefed the city council last night on his concerns about the fluoride injection system.
The fluoride issue was added to the Sept. 4 city council agenda for the meeting between the council and the police pension board.
The City of Sebring injects fluoride into the drinking water at five of its seven water plants. Water Production Supervisor Jay Angell said they try to maintain a fluoride level of 0.80 parts per million.
The system has a 100-gallon bulk tank of fluoride, which feeds into a 10-gallon "day tank," he explained.
"The pump itself feeds out of the day tank so that if there were ever to be a malfunction, the most it could ever pump out in a 24-hour period would be that 10 gallons," Angell said.
Each of the five water plants uses about 1 1/2 to 2 gallons of fluoride per day, he said. There are no fluoridation facilities at the Highlands Ridge nor the Sebring Regional Airport water plants, which were private facilities the city purchased about a year ago.
"We just haven't gotten around to incorporating the fluoride into that yet," Angell said.
The Town of Lake Placid has never added fluoride to its water.
Utility Director Gary Freeman said, "There is no particular reason why we don't do it, but it has never been done. It hasn't been pursued."
No one has suggested that the city should treat the water with fluoride, he said.