Fluoride comes back Monday after a two-year hiatus to water used by thousands of Poughkeepsie residents, but two Joint Water Board members remain concerned about potential negative health effects.
Board Chairman Frank Mora also is angry with Dutchess County Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Caldwell, claiming he has not answered detailed questions about the return of fluosilicic acid to drinking water.
“None of my questions have been answered that I sent to the department of health,” said Mora, a former Common Council chairman who represents the City of Poughkeepsie on the joint board.
Caldwell did not immediately return a call Friday seeking comment. In a letter to the board dated Tuesday, Caldwell wrote he forwarded detailed questions to state health officials. The state responded it supports fluoridation, but did not address Mora’s specific questions.
Mora also is still waiting for answers to safety and compliance questions he sent the manufacturer that supplies the chemical to Poughkeepsie.
Mora said about 80,000 people in the City and Town of Poughkeepsie, as well as some in Wappingers Falls and Hyde Park, get water from the system.
Several residents interviewed Friday were unaware fluoride had been removed from water and, like the water board, had divergent views on its benefits.
“It’s good for your teeth,” town resident Vasantha Krishna said.
“I don’t think it’s good for the teeth, as far as what I’ve been hearing,” city resident Lorraine Powell said.
In expressing his concern, Mora has cited a 2006 National Research Council report that concluded the addition of fluoride to water may be harmful, causing thyroid impairment. He also pointed to a 2001 Centers for Disease Control report that found no correlation between the amount of fluoride in tooth enamel and decreased tooth decay.
“This doesn’t do what it says it does and there’s a chance it’s extremely dangerous,” Mora said of fluosilicic acid.
The water board voted 4-2 this month to reintroduce fluoride, with Mora and town Supervisor Patricia Myers casting the dissenting votes.
Myers wanted to postpone the vote until more information could be gathered, citing recent reports fluoride could harm infants. She also remains skeptical of fluoridation’s benefits.
“I don’t think it’s ever been proven that, when ingested, it will do all the wonderful things it’s supposed to,” Myers said.
Mora said fluoride was taken out of local water two years ago because it was causing equipment and employee safety problems at the Poughkeepsie treatment facility. Those problems have since been rectified.
Board members supporting fluoride’s return were city Mayor Nancy Cozean, city Finance Commissioner James Wojtowicz, Mark Newton and town board member Todd Tancredi, R-6th Ward.
Tancredi said he was assured by county and state health experts fluoridation benefits residents.
“You can get studies that show both things,” Tancredi said of research on fluoride’s health effects. “Until they say otherwise, I’m going to continue to side with the county health department and the state.”
Fluoridation was used in the Poughkeepsie water system for years before the practice stopped two years ago. Officials said its removal had nothing to do with fluoride’s impact on health.
Mora and the board have also received a notice of noncompliance and liability from resident Carlo Mazzarelli. He wrote that absent a statement from the chemical manufacturer that the product reduces tooth decay and is safe, “the selection of the product” appears “capricious and without legitimate public benefit.”