Egg Harbor City Council has voted to continue adding recommended amounts of healthful fluoride to their water system. We commend them for what in New Jersey is apparently an act of courage or superior understanding.
You might think fluoridating water is a no-brainer. The science that it prevents and even reverses tooth decay is about as established as science gets.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has designated water fluoridation as "one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century."
The American Dental Association says 60 years of studies "have consistently indicated that fluoridation of community water supplies is safe and effective in preventing dental decay in both children and adults. It is the most efficient way to prevent one of the most common childhood diseases - tooth decay (five times as common as asthma and seven times as common as hay fever)."
This great health benefit is also mercifully inexpensive, ranging from 50 cents to $3 a year per person, the ADA figures, avoiding about $38 in dental treatment costs for each dollar spent.
And yet ... in continuing to fluoridate, Egg Harbor City remains one of just two municipalities in Atlantic County giving residents this obvious, overwhelming and cost-effective health benefit. (The other is Atlantic City.)
The CDC says 74 percent of Americans get the benefit of fluoride in their water.
None of those Americans lives in Cape May County or Ocean County, the New Jersey Dental Association says. None live in Cumberland County, except for some well water users in Stow Creek whose naturally occurring fluoride provides the same level of protection.
New Jersey is quite backward when it comes to fluoridation, with just 15 percent of municipalities providing it.
State law leaves it up to the towns to decide whether they want it. New Jersey American Water, which supplies a lot of municipalities, says it will fluoridate water for towns that want it.
So, town governments of South Jersey, what are you waiting for? Join Egg Harbor City and three-quarters of your fellow Americans in one of the great advances of the last century ... before we get too far into this century.