|March 15, 2004|
GOVERNOR RECOGNIZES PUBLIC WATER
SPRINGFIELD, Ill -- Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today recognized 391 community water systems for maintaining optimal fluoride levels in drinking water for each month in 2003.
"Water fluoridation is the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay and improve oral health in both children and adults," the Governor said. "Studies have shown that for every dollar invested in fluoridation, as much as $38 is saved in dental treatment costs."
Of those recognized, 115 systems earned a commendation for meeting state recommended fluoride levels of 0.9 to 1.2 parts per million for at least five consecutive years, 54 for at least 10 years, 10 for at least 15 years and three for at least 20 years.
"One of the great advantages of fluoridation as a disease prevention measure is that it does not require a conscious decision by individuals for them to realize the benefits," said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director. "Whether one is rich or poor, lives in a rural or urban area, is a child at school or playing at home, is an adult or retired person, the benefits are gained simply by drinking fluoridated water."
"Community water fluoridation is an efficient, economical way to promote dental health, particularly for children," said Renee Cipriano, director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA). "These water supply operators should be congratulated for their efforts in maintaining optimum fluoride levels for the protection of their communities."
Fluoride in drinking water helps to improve the quality of life through less tooth decay, reduced time lost from school and work, and less money spent to restore, remove or replace decayed teeth.
In Illinois, 99 percent of those served by public water systems receive the benefit of fluoridated drinking water compared to the current national average of 66 percent.
Fluoride is found naturally in water, but in many communities the amount of the mineral is too low and does not meet the required standards. When this occurs, fluoride must be added to the water to provide optimal oral health benefits to the community. Of the 1,827 water supplies in Illinois, 889 systems adjust fluoride levels. The average cost to fluoridate a community water supply is about 50 cents per person per year.
System operators send water samples to a certified lab on a monthly basis for testing and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) monitors the sample results to ensure fluoride levels meet the state standards. IDPH and IEPA offer assistance to communities to assist them in maintaining fluoride levels.
In addition to those recognized for meeting standards for all 12 months, another 130 communities received honorable mention for achieving fluoridation standards for 11 of 12 months during 2003.
The idea of water fluoridation to prevent tooth decay was tested in four pairs of cities, including Evanston and Oak Park in Illinois, starting in 1945. After surveys in those communities over 13 to 15 years, dental caries was reduced 50 percent to 70 percent in the communities with fluoridated water. Due to the success of the study, recommendations for the optimum range of fluoride in water were developed in 1962. The benefits of water fluoridation led to the development of other ways to deliver fluoride, such as toothpastes, gels, mouth rinses, tablets and drops.
To view a list of the water systems receiving 2003 compliance awards, click here. PDF Format, 64K
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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