Fluoridation of the city’s water will be delayed for a couple of months so notifications can be put into customers’ new water bills in September. At least two aldermen say they have concerns about health effects.
The law allowing fluoridation was passed in 2003, but implementation was delayed until the new water treatment plant could be built. Fluoride backers — which include most dentists and public health officials — say it greatly reduces tooth decay, particularly in children.
Aldermen Joel Sierra and Kate Ramkissoon, who were elected after 2003, both said they have talked to people concerned about the health effects of fluoridation.
“If we don’t have this feeling of backing from the community, then we need to at least explore the option of another public hearing to make sure we’re making the right choice for today — not 2003, but 2012,” Ramkissoon said.
Sierra said he has been researching the issue and is worried about possible ill effects. Opponents say the benefits of fluoridated water on tooth decay are exaggerated, and that fluoridation may be tied to bone and brain damage, among other problems.
“I don’t see why we should fluoridate the water if there (are) any potential health risks,” Sierra said.
Alderman Joe Masi was on the council in 2003 and voted for fluoridation; J. Miguel Rodrigues, who is now council president, was running for election at the time. They both said most of the people who spoke at the time, including the medical experts, supported it.
“It’s not my science,” said Middletown Mayor Joe DeStefano. “It’s medical science.”
Masi and Rodrigues both said they haven’t gotten any constituent feedback against fluoridation.
Alderman Ashok Sabnis said he supports fluoridation. Alderman Scott Smith said he is leaning toward leaving the law in place, but that he has been getting information on both sides of the issue.
“I’m not inclined to change it just yet, but I’m certainly open to read more and hear more before the next step,” he said.
The council’s Legislative Committee will discuss fluoridation at its next meeting on July 24.
As well as Middletown, the city also provides water to adjoining areas of the Town of Wallkill and to sections of the Town of Wawayanda. The chemical will cost the city about $20,000 yearly.