City of Plattsburgh councilors voted in favor of keeping fluoride in the city’s drinking water.
Councilors Timothy Carpenter (D-Ward 1), George Rabideau (R-Ward 3), James Calnon (I-Ward 4) and Chris Jackson (D-Ward 6) voted against a measure to remove fluoride from the city’s water supply while Michael Kelly (D-Ward 2) and Amy Valentine (D-Ward 5) voted in favor of its removal Thursday night.
The vote came after about an hour’s worth of comments from the public and debate among the council.
Opponents of fluoride have argued for the better part of the past year that the chemical is dangerous and can lead to serious health issues.
They also argue against the systematic delivery of fluoride to the public through the drinking-water supply.
Supporters of fluoride say that it promotes healthy teeth and is not a health threat.
During the public comment period, five people spoke out against the use of fluoride in the city’s drinking water.
“The question is not whether the product or the dosage meets government standards; it’s whether the government standards, as they have been in the past, are based on too little research and on faulty assumptions,” Richard Robbins, husband of Valentine, said.
No one spoke in favor of fluoride.
Kelly said studies have shown that infants and people with heart or kidney disease, diabetes and vitamin C and magnesium deficiencies should not have fluoride.
“That means that about 25 percent of the people of this city should not have fluoride,” Kelly said to his fellow councilors.
“So, are you willing to vote to allow these individuals to suffer because of your decision?”
Rabideau said he was supporting fluoride because local, state and federal agencies have said that it is safe.
“I could start my own council tomorrow if I wanted to and say whatever I want,” he said in reference to numerous studies on the topic.
Calnon said opponents of fluoride should take their fight nationally to the Center for Disease Control and the Environmental Protection Agency.
“I find it interesting that the battle over fluoride is being done community by community, 19,000 people at a time,” he said.
Valentine said she agrees the fight should go nationally but worries that national standards have been diminished, an effect of the George Bush administration.
“Jim (Calnon) is right. We need to demand better standards including the removal of fluoride,” Valentine said.
“But I also think that we can do something locally like so many other communities have.”
Carpenter and Jackson both said they supported keeping fluoride based on recommendations from local and state health departments and federal agencies.
“If the Board of Health changes its mind tomorrow then I will change my vote,” Carpenter said.
Jackson said he, too, would go with government recommendations.
“I have no medical background so this is a tough one for me,” he said.
Following the meeting, Paula Calkins-Lacombe, director of the Clinton County Health Department, who attended the meeting with several other Health Department representatives, said that in her 30-plus years in the public health field in the community, she has seen no epidemic of fluoride-related illnesses.