HONOLULU — A Hawaii lawmaker is pushing to add the mineral fluoride to the state’s public water systems in an effort to promote better dental health.
Democratic state Sen. Karl Rhoads has sponsored legislation that would require the state’s major public water suppliers to fluoridate drinking water.
Rhoads told KITV-TV that Hawaii ranks the lowest in the country for children’s dental health.
“Fluoridation is a system that’s used all over the country, all over the world, that reduces cavities if you drink water that’s fluoridated,” Rhoads said.
Fluoridating the water would be safe and cost-effective approach to address the issue, he said.
“In a big system like Honolulu’s, you could save up to $32 in reduced dental costs for every dollar that you spend fluoridating,” Rhoads said.
The legislation would require the state Department of Health to reimburse water suppliers for initial expenses incurred and provide them with technical assistance and training. It would also require the department to submit a report to the state Legislature on the implementation of fluoridating water system.
“All four counties chlorinate their water — that’s to keep us from getting gastro-intestinal diseases,” Rhoads said. “They’re very similar chemicals.”
Oahu resident Toshiko Tomasso said she supports the idea if it could help her save money.
“Dental costs for my kids were very high last time I visited. They had two cavities but I had to pay like $300,” Tomasso said. “I think it would help my children prevent cavities, so I think it’d be a good thing.”