Vitale/Weinberg Water Fluoridation Bill Approved By Senate Health Committee

Senator Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, the Chair of the Senate Health Committee, listens to testimony given to the panel.

TRENTON – The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today voted 6-0-3 to approve a bill to require the fluoridation of all public community water systems in New Jersey.

Sponsored by Senator Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex) and Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), the bill (S2856) would require the Commissioner of Environmental Protection, in conjunction with the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, to adopt rules and regulations relating to the fluoridation of public community water systems. The new law would be designated the “New Jersey Public Water Supply Fluoridation Act.”

The new rules and regulations would include the means by which fluoride is controlled, the methods of testing the fluoride content; and the records to be kept relating to fluoridation. The fluoridation of water in all public community water systems would be required within 12 months of the bill’s effective date.

The bill would prohibit the Commissioner of Environmental Protection from requiring the fluoridation of water in any public community water system in which the water supply already contains sufficient fluorides.

“This is the best way to protect the teeth of young people so they will have healthy teeth throughout their lives,” Sen. Vitale said. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say water fluoridation prevents tooth decay throughout life mainly through direct contact with teeth. But it’s also important when consumed by children during the tooth forming years. This is the most inexpensive way to deliver the benefits of fluoride to all residents.”

All water naturally contains some fluoride. When a community fluoridates its water, it adjusts the level of fluoride in the water to an optimal level for preventing tooth decay. Currently, more than 184 million people in the United States are served by public water supplies containing enough fluoride to protect teeth.

“Fluoride from many sources prevents tooth decay, including being applied directly to teeth through toothpaste, mouth rinses, professionally applied fluoride treatments available in the dental office and prescribed dietary supplements,” Sen. Weinberg said. “But the CDC emphasizes that these methods of delivering fluoride are more expensive than water fluoridation and require a conscious decision to use them.”

The bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

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