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Fluoride still benefiting city residents

All Pearl River County water systems continue to add fluoride to the water for the benefit of the residents. Adding fluoride to a community’s water supply can prevent 25 percent of tooth decay over a person’s lifetime, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health’s website.

Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel and promotes tooth enamel repair, according to the site. The health department recommends 0.7 to 1.2 parts per million of fluoride in community water systems. Fluoride occurs naturally in water at low concentrations, but is added to many community water systems to reach an ideal level.

Children especially benefit from fluoridated water, but fluoride also prevents the spread of cavities in adults, according to the site. In the right proportion, Fluoride offers two benefits: it strengthens tooth enamel and deters bacterial growth, both of which prevent tooth decay, the site states.

Picayune Public Works Director Eric Morris said the city’s water has been fluoridated for at least the last 8 years. There has been no gap in which the city did not fluoridate the water in that time, he said.

He said that adding fluoride to the water is a simple and automated process. Devices that are part of the water system automatically inject the proper amount of fluoride, the same way the pumps inject chlorine, he said. Cliff Diamond, executive director of the Pearl River County Utility Authority, said with the proper equipment it’s not hard to maintain the right levels.

The city tries to maintain a range between 0.7 ppm and 1.3 ppm, but the goal is 0.8 ppm, he said.

Diamond said Utility Authority water systems have always fluoridated the water. Those systems were built after Hurricane Katrina, so the equipment is newer, he said.

In the Picayune area, the Utility Authority services the Westchester, Eagle Heights, Liberty Road and Hillsdale areas. The Utility Authority also sells approximately 5 million gallons of water per month to the city of Poplarville, Diamond said.

According to the 2018 city of Poplarville drinking water quality report, the last recorded level of fluoride in Poplarville’s drinking water was 0.8 ppm, which is within the State Health Department’s recommended fluoride levels.