CFPUA cuts off flow of fluoride during investigation

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CFPUA Richardson nano-filtration plan stops flow of fluoride (Photo: Kirsten Gutierrez/WWAY)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority is investigating after they issued an alert for nearly 30,000 people in New Hanover County to not drink their water due to high levels of fluoride.

“We want to understand what happened and we want to make the necessary corrective actions to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” CFPUA Director of Engineering, Carel Vandermeyden said.

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The recent spike in fluoride was found in CFPUA’s water at the Richardson nano-filtration plant Wednesday.

“Fluoridation of water systems has been around for 60, 70 years. And the main purpose of it is to reduce tooth decay,” Vandermeyden said.

Since the alert and boil water advisory, CFPUA has cut off the flow of fluoride completely and plan on leaving the system off until they figure out what happened.

“We certainly apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused,” Vandermeyden said. “And we appreciate our customers patience with us as we work through this.”

Many are still concerned, but experts say it is nothing to worry about. Experts add you would have to be exposed to the high levels of fluoride for a long period of time to become sick or get fluorosis.

“Most cases are mild if they happen at all,”  Renaissance Dental Studio Dentist, Sarah Pless, DSS said. “And it’s some mild whitening spots on the surface of the enamel. Worst cases are they can form some pretty severe pits.”

While some say fluoride should not be in the water at all, Pless disagrees and believes it is in the water for a good reason.

“Not every child has the opportunity to go to the dentist during those formative years until about age 8 when most of the teeth have finished developing under the gum line,” Pless said. “And so not everybody needs it for sure, but we really want to look out for those who maybe don’t have the chance to get it any other way.”

CFPUA says they are looking into the all possible causes including the plant’s control and mechanical systems.

Vandermeyden said there is no timeline on the investigation but they hope to have more answers soon.