The federal government Monday lowered the recommended amount of fluoride that should be added to tap water.
But some skeptics say the risks of fluoride do not justify adding it to the water in the first place.
For more than 50 years, the government has recommended adding about the same level of fluoride, but The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is recommending lowering the dosage because so many people are exposed to fluoride in toothpaste and mouthwash.
The previous recommendation was between 0.7 and 1.2 milligrams per liter, but now, they are recommending capping the amount added to tap water at 0.7 milligram per liter.
The Durango Water Treatment Plant provides water that has about 0.9 milligrams per liter sodium fluoride, but it would be easy to reduce the dose, said superintendent Dave Ferguson.
“The health benefits from fluoridated water have been recognized for 70 years,” said Kari Plante, the regional oral-health specialist with the San Juan Basin Health Department.
It also is widespread; about 72 percent of Coloradans receive fluoridated water, but communities can opt out of the process.
But in some areas, federal agencies have noticed an increase of dental fluorosis. This condition occurs after prolonged exposure to high levels of fluoride, and it can stain the teeth.
“Most teeth that have fluorosis are extremely strong,” Plante said.
Pagosa Springs resident Cathy Justus, however, does not believe the federal government went far enough and advocates on a national level to end fluoridation.
“None of them are doing what they are supposed to be doing because fluoride is a proven toxin,” she said.
Justus would like to see fluoridation eliminated, and she has fought to have it ended in Pagosa Springs after eight of her horses and four dogs died from fluoride poisoning, she said.
She said a researcher at Cornell University in New York confirmed that her horses died of chronic fluoride poisoning.
“The problem is doctors and vets are not taught the hugely varied amount of things fluoride can cause,” Justus said.
She said her horses had skeletal problems, cancers and neurological problems.
But Plante counters that there are no adverse health effects from fluoridated water, and it helps improve oral health in people who may not be able to go to the dentist.
“The (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has declared it one of the 10 greatest pubic-health achievements of the 20th century,” Plante said.