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Legislation sponsored by Assemblymen Herb Conaway Jr, M.D. and Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald requiring the fluoridation of all public water supply systems in New Jersey cleared an Assembly panel on Monday.

“Water fluoridation is a safe and effective way to prevent cavities in children and adults and saves money that would otherwise be spent on dental care by families and governments,” said Conaway, (D-Burlington), who is a practicing physician. “More than six decades of use, countless studies and the experience of millions of Americans tell us water fluoridation is effective in preventing cavities and is safe for children and adults.”

The “New Jersey Public Water Supply Fluoridation Act” would require all public water systems in the state be fluoridated within a year of the bill becoming effective.

“Community water fluoridation has proven to be the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay,” said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington. “Studies show that water fluoridation reduces tooth decay by as much as 40 percent. Knowing this and how safe and helpful fluoride is, how can we not finally move forward with this common sense legislation?”

According to the CDC, in 2008 only 13.6 percent of New Jerseyans served by community water systems were getting fluoridated water. New Jersey was ranked 49th nationally for having the least water fluoridation; only Hawaii ranked lower with 10.8 percent. The CDC has recognized water fluoridation as one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.

The bill (A-1811) was released by the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee, which is chaired by Conaway, and now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.