Natick recently gave residents a heads up that it was expecting the town in mid-October to run out of the sodium fluoride it adds during water treatment to help improve oral health in kids. It was hoping to have the issue resolved in December.
The town says drinking water suppliers nationwide are running into such issues due to supply chain issues with sourcing the inorganic chemical compound.
The issue prompted us to ask Wellesley Department of Public Works Director David Cohen if Wellesley is experiencing a shortage.
“We’re not having the same challenge mostly because our Morses Pond Treatment Plant is off-line and our existing [sodium fluoride] inventory will last us many months,” he wrote to us by email.
That treatment plant came offline in May following the discovery of elevated levels of PFAS chemicals in the water. In light of the PFAS situation, Wellesley has significantly upped its use of water from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, which says on its website that it “maintains a target fluoride level of 0.7 ppm, as recommended by the CDC and US HHS, and EPA to reduce tooth decay.”
We reached out to the MWRA to find out whether the sodium fluoride shortage has affected its operations or has increased outreach from communities that are affected. An MWRA spokesperson said: “We have not seen any interruptions in our fluoride supply. We use a different type than Natick (hydrofluosilicic acid, not sodium fluoride). And we have not received any requests from our partially served communities for fluoride – it likely wouldn’t be compatible with their equipment.”
Meanwhile, Wellesley is being a good neighbor: “We’ve reached out to our colleagues in Natick to see if we may be able to help them out,” Cohen says.
And indeed, Natick has taken Wellesley up on the offer. The Public Works Department posted on its Facebook page this week that: “The Department has sourced and acquired a two month supply of fluoride. There will be no interruption in fluoridation. We thank our generous neighbors and partners to the east. Thank you Wellesley Department of Public Works.”