New fluoride standards will save water plants in state money

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — New fluoride standards will save water treatment plants in South Dakota a total of about $400,000 a year, state officials say.

The fluoride additive is intended to help prevent tooth decay and has been added to most municipal water systems in South Dakota for decades, based on federal recommendations.

Toothpastes have become better at battling tooth decay, and the 1962 standard for how much fluoride should be added to tap water changed at the federal level last April.

"There's more toothpaste that's readily available with fluoride in it, so (the higher standard) wasn't as necessary," said Mark Mayer, drinking water program administrator for South Dakota's Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

A South Dakota legislative rules review committee recently gave the department approval to adopt the new, lower standard, the Argus Leader newspaper reported ( ).

Sioux Falls this year paid about $29,000 for fluoride. Next year's bill will be about half that amount, purification plant manager Tim Stefanich said.

There are several water supplies around the state that have high levels of naturally occurring fluoride. Before the change in the standard, 11 of the state's 77 regulated water systems didn't need to add fluoride. With the change, that number jumps to 25, according to Mayer.

"It's going to save everybody money, but some people will be able to stop fluoridating altogether," he said.


Information from: Argus Leader,

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