POTSDAM - Village officials plan to reduce the dosage of fluoride in the municipality's drinking water supply from 1 part per million to .8 ppm.
The change comes following a recommendation from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to Potsdam Village Administrator David H. Fenton Jr.
Mr. Fenton said a new federal study has found that higher levels of fluoride in municipal drinking water supplies can cause spotting and pitting in teenagers' teeth. He said federal officials are now recommending a fluoridation level as low as .7 parts ppm as being sufficient to guard against tooth decay.
In the past, the federal government had recommended a fluoridation dosage level of 1.2 ppm to ward off cavities, according to Mr. Fenton.
The new federal guidelines mean the New York state Department of Health is also lowering its recommended target for fluoridating municipal water supplies from 1 ppm to .8, according to Mr. Fenton.
He said village Water and Sewer Manager Robert M. Henninger is expected to correct the dosage in a matter of days.
"Bob spoke with DOH, and they are now setting a target of .8 ppm, so we will be able to lower to that level right away," Mr. Fenton said. "DOH will probably adopt the federal recommendation at some time in the future."
Mr. Henninger said last year the village paid $6,600 for fluoride to be added to the municipal water supply and dropping that dosage from 1 ppm to .8 will initially save taxpayers about $1,300. However, he said there will also be additional savings involving time and labor.
"At $5.39 per gallon for the fluoride, we would save about $1,300, but you are not including the manpower to feed that chemical, the electrical component, equipment wear and tear and other factors," Mr. Henninger said. "There are definitely more savings but it would be tough to figure out right now."
Mr. Fenton said simply reducing the fluoride level does not require action on the part of the village's Board of Trustees, but eliminating fluoride in the water altogether would require the support of trustees and maybe even a village referendum.
"Since the .8 is the state recommendation, Bob can simply do that as part of operating the plant. It isn't uncommon for levels of various chemicals to change," Mr. Fenton said.
"It would at least take a board resolution to change the existing policy to fluoridate the water; but I'd have to research the referendum issue."
With the new governmental guidelines for fluoride use, Mr. Fenton said he would not be surprised if the topic of eliminating the chemical altogether surfaces in Potsdam, although so far that hasn't happened.
"So far there has been no one requesting we stop using fluoride altogether. That could change now that fluoride is back in the news, and the feds are choosing to reduce levels due to a known adverse effect of fluoridation," Mr. Fenton said.