Longmont has fluoridated its water supply since 1958, but due to the last sodium fluoride mine in the country shutting down its operations this year, supplies have been restricted all along the front range, leading Longmont to exhaust its reserves.
“We haven’t fluoridated for about a month,” said Bob Allen, the city’s director of operations public works and natural resources. “The water supply does have fluoride in it from natural sources, but it’s not fluoridated to the recommended 0.7mg/L level since we ran out.”
Without any added fluoride, Longmont naturally has a 0.2mg/L of fluoride in its water supply.
The effectiveness of adding a chemical like flouride to water systems has recently come under some scrutiny due to a higher use of fluoride by way of oral health products like toothpaste and mouth wash. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention even reduced the recommended level of fluoridation from 1.2 to 0.7mg/L in 2013, but that hasn’t swayed the Longmont City Council to change its policy.
“The benefits outweigh the negatives,” Mayor Brian Bagley said. “So there have been no discussions to stop fluoridation.”
Currently, the city pays roughly $40,000 a year for the chemicals as well as the labor to apply it to the water system.
Jim Kaufman, the city’s water treatment operations manager, said there is a steady supply of fluoride coming out of China, but in the past he has questioned its quality and is awaiting test results from Denver Water before he uses it in Longmont’s system.
The city could also switch equipment to use a liquid-based system like the City of Boulder employs, but that would be far too costly. Instead, Kaufman said the city will just have to wait until their Belgium supplier can increase production, which he expects to be a couple of weeks.
“Shortages or disruptions of fluoride product deliveries are not common,” the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, wrote in a statement. “Most shortages and disruptions tend to be for a short period, on the order of several weeks.”