SPRINGFIELD—The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), along with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), last week presented fluoridation awards to 432 community water systems—including Elburn and Sugar Grove—for maintaining state mandated fluoride levels every month in 2011. In addition, the village of Maple Park joined another list of honorable mentions for maintaining the mandated levels for 11 of the 12 months.
The awards were presented at a ceremony held last Wednesday during the 2012 Illinois Section American Water Works Association Conference and Expo at the Crowne Plaza in Springfield.
“Water fluoridation can improve overall oral health for both children and adults, and studies show water fluoridation reduces tooth decay by about 25 percent over a person’s lifetime,” said Dr. David Miller, IDPH Division of Oral Health Chief. “We applaud those communities that maintain levels of fluoride in their water systems and encourage them to continue their efforts.”
Of those recognized: 81 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; 47 for at least 10 years; 79 for at least 15 years; 16 for at least 20 years, 8 for at least 25 years, and 1 for at least 30 years. Another 122 communities received honorable mentions for meeting state fluoride levels 11 of 12 months in 2011.
“Maintaining optimum fluoride levels provides an important benefit for the public. The Illinois EPA congratulates these water supply operators for all their efforts to diligently ensure fluoride levels to their respective communities,” IEPA Interim Director John J. Kim said.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has long acknowledged the public benefits of fluoridation of water systems. In fact, drinking fluoridated water from birth can reduce tooth decay by 40 to 65 percent. In Illinois, communities have practiced water fluoridation for more than 60 years, and fluoride continues to prove beneficial in the battle against tooth decay.
Approximately 99 percent Illinois residents served by public water systems receive the benefit of fluoridated drinking water, compared to the current national average of approximately 72 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.
Water operators will add fluoride to fulfill optimal health benefits to the communities. Of the 1,789 water supplies in Illinois, 831 systems adjust fluoride levels and another 785 have either adequate, natural fluoride or are connected to an adjusted system.