North Marshall Utilities removed fluoride from water supply

GRANT, Ala. -- The North Marshall Utilities Board of Directors made the decision to take the fluoride out of the water supply. The company serves the town of Grant and the surrounding area.

The board made that decision in October. Company officials say the main reason behind the move is concerns for the health of the treatment plant operators, who are exposed to the raw chemical. "We're exposed to a lot of stuff down there at the treatment plant, lot of different chemicals at the treatment plant," North Marshall Utilities general manager Jeff Sutphin said, "This is one that is not absolutely necessary for the purification of the water system."

The operators wear protective clothing, but Sutphin says they still have concerns based on the amount of years the employees can spend working with the chemical. He says the board discussed the move at length and researched the topic before making the decision.

Officials with the utility company feel that their customers will have an exposure to fluoride in their day-to-day routine. "Fluoride is in soft drinks, Gatorade, processed food," Sutphin explained. Company officials say there's a low percentage of natural fluoride content in the water.

Sutphin says they've gotten equal calls from customers who are for and against the move.

People who are opposed to the move say they don't agree with the board's reasoning behind the decision. They say a main concern is that it will put kids at risk of tooth problems. Another concern they have is the possible ramifications from lack of fluoride for people with limited income, who can't afford routine dental care.

All traces of the added fluoride will be gone within the next two weeks.

The water board is only required to notify the public of a change in the water if a chemical exceeds the regulated amount.