GARAPAN Saipan — An entrepreneur who owns a string of companies on Saipan has opened yet another business — selling fluoridated bottled water which is believed to be a good supplement for dental care especially for children and young adults.

Anthony Pellegrino whose companies include Saipan Ice and Water Co.  Inc. told the Journal  that he would offer his product to the public school system which has approximately 1 600 students from Head Start to high school.

Pellegrino who presented his new product before the Rotary Club of Saipan during a regular meeting on Dec. 12 said he started working on this project in June; his capital investment was approximately $20 000. He said he was convinced to venture into fluoridated bottled water by  Allan Stuart Markoff owner of ToothWorks; a company engaged in general cosmetic and implant dentistry.

“Dr. Allan Markoff one of the leading dentists here came to me and said ‘We need fluoridated water. The kids teeth are very bad.”

Pelligrino said “I knew about fluoridated water but I didn’t think it was that important and viable.  I did some research and the more he talked the more sense it made. I think it’s worthwhile.” He said his company received the approval of the Northern Mariana Islands Division of Environmental Quality early in December following several tests. He said wholesale distribution of 300 milliliter and 500 milliliter bottled fluoridated water to the supermarkets started also in December. The price is between 55¢ and 60¢ a bottle he said.

Pellegrino said he plans to distribute fluoridated water in five-gallon containers.

“We’re are just slowly getting it out in the stores and we will take it into some of the schools. The schools are already getting water from other suppliers. And so we are trying to convince them that fluoridation is the way to go ” Pellegrino said.

Asked if he thinks there’s a market for bottled fluoridated water in the Northern Marianas Pellegrino said “ We are going to find out. We think so and we are going to find out.”

According to fluoridated water combats tooth decay by strengthening tooth enamel and allowing teeth damage. Fluoride is also a key component of most toothpaste products.

According to 2002 statistics from the Center for Disease Control showed that almost 66% of the U.S. mainland population receives fluoridated water through the taps installed at homes.

Some advocacy groups oppose the sale and use of fluoridated water citing concerns about toxicity and hazards to health said.

According to too much fluoride before eight years of age can cause enamel discoloration which is “unsightly but harmless.”

Pellegrino said the company makes sure fluoride content of the bottled water is within these levels. MBJ