N.J. considers fluoridating all public water systems

New Jersey lawmakers are considering legislation that would require the addition of fluoride to all public water systems.

While more than 70 percent of residents nationwide have fluoridated water, less than 14 percent of New Jerseyans have it in their community’s water system.

The expense of adding fluoride to the water, including equipment costs, would end up being passed along to customers, said Karen Alexander, president of the New Jersey Utilities Association.

“People are already very concerned about the cost of their utility services, so we think people have a variety of other mechanisms to opt for fluoride,” Alexander said.

The New Jersey Dental Association supports mandatory fluoridation. It’s the least expensive and most effective way to improve oral health, said Jim Schulz, director of government affairs for the association.

“That cost according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is about a dollar per person per year and that nets a benefit of about $38 per person per year in oral health benefits,” he said.

Similar measures have stalled in the Legislature for the past several years.

New Jersey is 49th in the nation in the percentage of state residents with fluoridated water.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal