Health district to pursue fluoridation in Springfield, New Carlisle

The issue may go before voters in 2017.

The Clark County Combined Health District may ask voters to fluoridate the public water supply in Springfield and New Carlisle next year, which health officials say will improve dental health for more than 85,000 residents.

The Clark County Board of Health voted unanimously last week to pursue the issue. As part of the Community Health Improvement plan, a work group has been formed to decide when the issue may go before voters, Health Commissioner Charles Patterson said, which could be in November of 2017.

>>LEARN MORE: Get complete coverage of Springfield’s health issues

>>SUCCESS STORY: Springfield man loses more than 300 pounds

More than 32 percent of Clark County residents have had between one and five permanent teeth removed because of tooth decay or gum disease, according to the Community Health Assessment completed last year.

If approved, the initiative will affect more than 85,000 people in Clark County, as well as the rest of the region through bottled water, Patterson said.

“Very rarely in public health can we do something that we’re not asking to change a behavior, or do something very difficult like quit smoking or lose 40 pounds,” Patterson said. “This intervention doesn’t care if you’re poor or rich, it doesn’t care if you’re black or white. It affects everybody in the same positive way.”

About 85 percent of Ohio residents have access to fluoridated water, Patterson said. Of the 22 Ohio cities without fluoridated water, Springfield is the largest, said district intern Tanya Khan, a first-year medical student who is researching fluoride for the district.

Several communities in Clark County, including Northridge, Medway and Park Layne, add fluoride to their water supply, which affects about 16,000 people, Patterson said.

The district will offset the costs of any equipment needed to fluoridate the water through grants from the Ohio Department of Health.

Dental care is also a big need in Clark County, where there is one dentist per every 2,200 residents in Clark County, according to the 2016 County Health Rankings. That’s well below the state average ratio of 1,170 residents per 1 dentist.

About 38.1 percent of Clark County adults don’t have health insurance, while 14.5 percent of children here have never been to the dentist, Khan said.

In 1969, Ohio legislators passed a law requiring fluoridation of public water supplies that serve more than 5,000 people. However, Springfield voters approved being exempt from the law later that year.

Fluoridation of the public water supply was placed on the ballot in 2005, but was defeated as 57 percent of voters came out against the issue. Many of those opposed expressed concern about adding a potentially toxic chemical to Springfield’s water.

This time around, the district will spend the next year educating the public about the issue, Patterson said. There are many misconceptions about fluoridated water online, he said.

“Unfortunately, not everything posted on the Internet is true,” Patterson said. “Not all of it is factual. We want to deal with facts and reputable sources for those facts. I think that’s going to be the difference.”

Yellow Springs rejected a fluoride measure in 2011, while Xenia has rejected fluoride twice since 2005, according to the Fluoride Action Network, a national group which opposes fluoridated water.

Springfield resident Shirley Whitacre voted against the issue 11 years ago. If put before voters again next year, Whitacre won’t support it this time around either, she said.

“I just feel we’re exposed to enough chemicals,” Whitacre said. “There’s fluoride in toothpaste and you don’t swallow the toothpaste. If you have it in your water, you’re not going to have an opportunity to not digest that.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Politics

Russia investigation: Special counsel Mueller subpoenas Trump Organization
Russia investigation: Special counsel Mueller subpoenas Trump Organization

  Special counsel Robert Mueller has subpoenaed the Trump Organization for documents as part of his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its possible ties to President Donald Trump and his associates, according to multiple reports. The subpoena is the first directly connected to one of Trump’s businesses...
Pa. election outcome has some thinking Ohio districts are in play
Pa. election outcome has some thinking Ohio districts are in play

Democrat Conor Lamb’s stunning victory Tuesday in a suburban Pittsburgh congressional district easily won in 2016 by President Donald Trump has convinced Democrats and some independent analysts the party has a chance to compete for at least two GOP seats in Ohio. Although Lamb apparently prevailed over Republican Rick Saccone by less than a thousand...
READ IT NOW: Ex-Springfield firefighter shared post with racial slur
READ IT NOW: Ex-Springfield firefighter shared post with racial slur

A Facebook post shared by a Springfield firefighter that the city says led to his firing contained a racial slur, and mocked school dropouts and McDonald’s employees. Bradley Baugh was fired on March 9 after only a few weeks with the Springfield Fire/Rescue Division, according to city records obtained by the Springfield News-Sun through a public...
Ohio lawmaker wants military to assist Puerto Rico cleanup
Ohio lawmaker wants military to assist Puerto Rico cleanup

In the aftermath of a whirlwind two-day trip to Puerto Rico, Rep. Brad Wenstrup will push for but the active duty and reservists to help assist in the rebuilding of Puerto Rico. Wenstrup, a Cincinnati Republican who serves on the House Veterans Affairs Committee and who is an Army Reservist, flew into Puerto Rico last Sunday for a field hearing on...
Springfield rejects rezoning for used car lot after neighbors object
Springfield rejects rezoning for used car lot after neighbors object

A rezoning request for a proposed car lot on East High Street has been rejected because it didn’t fit the neighborhood, local leaders said. Springfield city commissioners unanimously rejected Tuesday the rezoning for a proposed half-acre car lot at 2440 E. High St. The Springfield City Planning Board members also recommended in January denying...
More Stories