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Compromise reached in Milwaukee’s fluoride debate

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee's debate over fluoride in the city's drinking water reached a compromise Tuesday, July 24th.

Several weeks ago, the gloves appeared to be out as the two sides debated whether fluoride was good or bad for you. Milwaukee Alderman Jim Bohl was determined to eliminate fluoride from the drinking water.

"We're talking about consuming a poison. Its impact on the body is not exclusively left to the teeth," Bohl said.

Others felt just as strongly that it was safe and necessary.

"Decay rates would be astronomically high if we discontinued water fluoridation," Dr. Ernestine Willis with Children's Hospital of Wisconsin said.

On Tuesday, cooler heads prevailed. In the Steering and Rules Committee, Alderman Bohl substituted the wording to his resolution from elimination of all fluoride in Milwaukee's water -- to decreasing the level from 1.1 to .7 milliliters of fluoride per liter of water. That's a level recommended by the Department of Health and Human Services.

"This particular percentage that we're going down to is recommended by a nationally recognized governmental entity," Alderman Joe Davis said.

Bohl's recommendation was approved by the Steering and Rules Committee -- as well as several health organizations. The substituted resolution also calls for an advisory to mothers to exclusively breast feed infants.

After winning committee approval, the measure went before the full Common Council and passed with no discussion.

The resolution now goes to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett for his signature.

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