The city in 2012 quietly stopped introducing a chemical into the water supply that is touted by dentists and the CDC alike for preventing tooth decay, and, for a couple of years, kept it that way.
In 2015, 6 Investigates discovered the stoppage and asked why.
Here’s what the city told us, back then:
“Back in 2012, our chemical feed for the ‘fluoride’ ended up going down,” said then-Water Quality Manager Gabriel Ramirez.
So, instead of replacing the equipment, the city simply stopped the fluoridation treatment.
Now, Ramirez is the Assistant Director of City Water Quality and Treatment, and he tells us the city restarted the program sometime after our report.
One thing to know: When the city talks about “fluoridating” the water supply, they’re talking about adding a chemical known as “Hydrofluorosilicic Acid,” or, HFSA.
And adding it requires attention to detail, as the city pumps out about 70 million gallons of water, every 24 hours.
But not just that, according to Material Safety Data Sheet on HFSA, the chemical is toxic if swallowed, harmful if inhaled and it can damage the eyes, burn the skin.
“Any chemical in the wrong concentration may not be great. So you have to make the sure the concentration’s in the right amount,” Ramirez says.
Corpus Christi water contains an average of about 0.4 milligrams of fluoride, per liter. Ramirez says the optimal level is 0.7 milligrams, so, the trick is adding the proper dose of HFSA to achieve that level.
“Different sources have different amounts of fluoride, already, so you want to make sure you’re adding the proper amounts,” Ramirez says.
He says staff members closely monitor those concentrations and adjust accordingly and, last year, the CDC awarded them with the “Water Fluoridation Quality Award,” for “consistent and professional adjustment of the fluoride content to the recommended level for oral health for 12 consecutive months,” in 2016.
But, while the CDC and American Dental Association endorse municipal water supply fluoridation, other groups like the “Fluoride Action Network,” decry the practice as antiquated, unnecessary and unsafe.