“I don’t want the government putting anything into my water, unless its scotch,” said a concerned community resident at the Plattsburgh City Common Council meeting last Thursday in regards to whether or not the city should continue to have fluoride in their water.
The decision to fluoridate public water rests with the city, although it is recommended by the Health Department it is not a government mandate. Nearly 70 percent of U.S. residents who get water from public systems have fluoridated water and it is considered to be a benefit to communities by major health institutions like the Center for Disease Control, Health Department, and the Surgeon General.
According to the Center for Disease Control, community water fluoridation is considered to be one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century. In a report issued by the Center for Disease Control, for every $ 1 invested in the fluoridation of water, an average of $ 38 is saved in dental treatment costs per year. However, not everyone believes that fluoride should be a part of the public water, regardless of the claimed benefits.
“Fluoridation is as divisive as abortion, we have been socialized to believe it’s the right thing to do,” said Amy Valentine, City Councilor of Ward V.
Valentine started to research fluoride years ago and made a commitment with her family to decrease their use of it and have been encouraging others to do so ever since. Her resolution to cease the fluoridation of public drinking water in the city was denied Thursday evening at the city of Plattsburgh Common Council meeting in a two to four vote.
One of the points written up in Valentines resolution was questioning the ethics behind public fluoridation. “Because it is considered medication (over the counter drug), we are involuntarily drugging people without their consent. This is not common practice in the medical field,” said Valentine.
“The ethics behind the decision is an interesting concern,” said James Calnon, City Councilor of Ward IV who was one of the four that voted Valentines resolution down.
“I voted against the resolution because I am not an expert and need to trust the EPA, CDC, Health Department, and the last five Surgeon Generals,” said Calnon who said he isn’t qualified to make such a vote that would challenge the experts.
“The research that has been done is not terribly extensive and there is evidence that supports the fluoridation of public water can have harmful affects,” said Richard Robbins, SUNY Plattsburgh Anthropology professor and community resident who opposes the fluoridation of public water.
“I am sure it will come up again. Most other industrial countries in Europe don’t use it, and many communities like Burlington and Long Island have removed it (fluoride) from their public water system,” said Robbins.
Robbins understands that the councilors were not qualified to make the decision of whether or not fluoride should be taken out of the city water supply. “There are already 40 to 50 toxic chemicals in our body, there is not enough testing or research that study what the effect of combining toxic chemicals will have in the long term,” said Robbins
“I am always skeptical to just take the governments word for it,” said Greg Colucci, SUNY Plattsburgh senior and environmental science major. “What about lead being approved by the federal government and then years later it has been determined unsafe. People need to be cautious when it comes to mass injection of chemicals by the government,” said Colucci.
“I have no idea why people are so against it (putting fluoride in the public water system), it boggles my mind that professionals and experts can stand up against this,” said Susan Thew, senior public health sanitarian for Clinton County Health Department. “Fluoride is not a medication, it is a supplement. People are not being involuntarily drugged and it has proven to be effective throughout the country,” Thew said.
The Plattsburgh Times is an alternative news source for the Plattsburgh, N.Y., community. An online newspaper, minus the paper and ink, covering news and issues in Plattsburgh, N.Y., that affect or interest people in our community. These news-features are written by journalism students at SUNY Plattsburgh, which assumes no legal responsibility for content.