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I-Team: Water fluoridation letter

Updated: Monday, July 30, 2012 |
I-Team: Water fluoridation letter story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A letter explaining a problem in the Kalamazoo water system has customers confused, concerned and looking for answers.

Kalamazoo adds fluoride to the drinking water, as does a significant majority of American cities.

At appropriate levels, fluoride helps prevent tooth decay--but as is often the case, too much of a good thing can be bad.

Earlier this month, Melissa Nicolazzo received a notice in the mail saying there had been an overfeed of fluoride into the Kalamazoo water system.

Levels went above the secondary health standard of 2 parts per million.

The notice said this was not an emergency and that the water was safe to drink, but also that too much fluoride can cause dental problems in young kids, like her 3-year-old son Jesse.

Nicolazzo is worried not just for little Jesse's teeth, but because the overfeed happened January 15th, but the notice showed up six months later.

Public Services Director Bruce Merchant said that sometimes the city notifies people immediately of a problem, but that state regulations allow the city up to a year in an incident like this.

In retrospect, Merchant says, he would have notified people much sooner.

"We've corrected our procedures internally to make sure notification would be made within a short period of time after an incident like this," he said.

Merchant said that the state requires most of the language in the letter regarding potential health concerns, and that he understands how it might confuse people.

"I can't tweak the state's language," Merchant said. "But I think I could add to the effect that the exposure was very short term. We don't anticipate any of those issues cropping up as a result of such a short-term exposure."

Nicolazzo says she's glad she better understands what happened, that the notification procedures are changing and that she once again feels safe letting her son enjoy his small blue cup of city water.

According to Merchant, the last time the city had an overfeed issue was six years ago, when state regulations were different.
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