By JIM BUTLER
Fluoride levels have prompted Rapides Island Water Association officials to remind customers in its rapidly growing service area of the chemical’s potential impact.
Rapides Island was initially known as that area lying between Red River and Bayou Rapides, stretching north to approximately where Cleco Lake now sits.
The water service area encompasses a large populated portion of western Rapides Parish.
Drinking fluoridated water keeps teeth strong and reduces cavities (also called tooth decay) by about 25 percent in children and adults, according to the CDC.
But too much fluoride poses other potential issues, including a cosmetic dental problem that might affect children under nine years of age.
According to the association, at low levels, fluoride can help prevent cavities, but children drinking water containing more than 2 milligrams per liter (mg/L) of fluoride may develop cosmetic discoloration of their permanent teeth (dental fluorosis).
Drinking water provided by the Association has a fluoride concentration of between 2.2 mg/l and 2.3 mg/L, according to sampling conducted in 2022.
Dental fluorosis, in its moderate or severe forms, may result in a brown staining and/or pitting of the permanent teeth.
This problem occurs only in developing teeth before they erupt from the gums.
Children under nine should be provided with alternative sources of drinking water or water that has been treated to remove the fluoride to avoid the possibility of staining and pitting of their permanent teeth, officials said.
They noted parents may also want to contact the family dentist about proper use by young children of fluoride-containing products.
As for older children and adults, they may safely drink the water, officials note.
In 1987, EPA set enforceable drinking water standard for flouride at 4.0 mg/L. Drinking water containing more than 4.0 mg/L of fluoride can increase risk of developing bone disease.
Rapides Island customers’ drinking water DOES NOT contain more than 4 mg/L of flouride, but the district is required to notify customers when fluoride levels in their drinking water exceed 2 mg/L because of the cosmetic dental problem.
A notice of exceeding the 2 mg/L threshold is not uncommon among water systems.
For more information, call Rapides Island Water Association at 318-793-4812. Some home water treatment units are also available to remove fluoride from drinking water.