A recent letter to the editor promoted the cost benefits of putting fluoride in our water supply. I would like to present a different view.
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According to the city, the annual direct costs for fluoridating - materials, staff time - is $95,000. So, over the next five years, that would be $475,000. If we put fluoride in the water, we also have to build a new storage facility at Basin Road. The one we were using does not meet standards for a hazardous waste storage facility.
A facility to store hazardous materials must be sprinkled in case of fire so the fumes do not escape, and ventilated so workers don't have to breathe hazardous fumes. It is not a simple shed. The city estimates it would cost $400,000 to build. So with $475,000 in direct costs and $400,000 for the storage building, the city will spend $875,000 over the next five years if we put fluoride back in the water.
I am all for spending money on children. But let's decide the best way to spend that money. If some children don't have access to preventive dental care, let's figure out how many children do get care through SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, which provides care to Alaska Native children and military dependents, and how many children are in need. Let's use the money it would cost to fluoridate to provide children who need it with dental care, including fluoride sealants, or hire a nurse to go into the schools and teach brushing or administer a fluoride rinse - some way to get fluoride on the outside of children's teeth where it belongs, and some way to help them have good dental habits for the rest of their lives.
It is best to know all the costs before making a decision of this magnitude.