The Health Trust, a Campbell-based foundation that funds health initiatives, is launching a campaign to add fluoride to San Jose's tap water.
The effort is aimed at promoting dental health for city residents. San Jose is the largest city in the country to have tap water that has not been fluoridated, and studies have shown a significantly higher rate of tooth decay in San Jose residents compared to statewide averages, reported the San Jose Mercury News.
When added to water, fluoride slows the growth of bacteria and helps prevent tooth decay.
Opponents to the fluoridation efforts say that ingestion of fluoride can be linked to problems with teeth, bones, the brain and the thyroid gland. Advocates counter by saying that the amounts typically added to tap water are far too small to cause this type of damage.
According to CDC estimates, the cost of fluoridating tap water varies depending on the size of the community. Data suggests that costs can range from 20 cents per person per year, to $8 per person per year.
“For a particular community, the cost may go even higher,” said Dr. Howard Pollick, clinical professor at the University of California-San Francisco School of Dentistry. “It depends on the number of water wells that need to be fluoridated.”
Some estimates place the cost of fluoridating San Jose at around $18 million. Both The Health Trust and San Jose Water Co. believe that number is incorrect, but a more accurate estimate won't be known until an engineering study is completed.