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News conferences held to debate safety of water fluoridation

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MILWAUKEE -- A news conference was held Thursday, May 31st regarding the issue of fluoride in Milwaukee's tap water. Is it a beneficial additive or a poison? Both sides had their say since a Milwaukee alderman proposed ending fluoridation of Milwaukee's drinking water.

Milwaukee Alderman Jim Bohl is adamant that fluoridation in Milwaukee's drinking water is a bad thing. Bohl held a news conference Thursday at Milwaukee's City Hall with experts, to champion his point.

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

Those in favor of fluoridation also held a news conference Thursday at City Hall.

 "Decay rates would be astronomically high if we discontinued water fluoridation, particularly as it applies to families who already have unlimited access to those routine dental providers throughout each municipality," Dr. Ernestine Willis with Children's Hospital of Wisconsin said.

At the Milwaukee Common Council's Steering and Rules Committee meeting Thursday, Alderman Bohl introduced his resolution to end fluoridation and create an oral health program for medically-underserved children, with the $540,000 the city would have spent on fluoridation.

The debate resumed at the meeting over what's best for Milwaukee's water system, and for the 15 other communities that utilize it.

"It is a corrosive poison that the EPA regulates as a pesticide that we don't control for dose," Bohl said.

"In Wisconsin, fluoridated communities have a 15% lower disease rate in dental disease. If you remove the fluoride in Milwaukee, you're going to see an increase in disease, and we already have an extreme oral health problem here in Milwaukee," Matt Crespin with the Children's Health Alliance of Wisconsin said.

The CDC and Health and Human Services departments are proposing decreasing the recommended optimal amount of fluoridation in drinking water.

Crespin says once the recommendation is made, the Children's Health Alliance would embrace the new levels.

As for Bohl's resolution, it would have to be approved by the committee, and then the full Common Council before the city would make any changes to the water system.

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