CANTON – The village Board of Trustees delayed a decision Monday on whether to fluoridate the water system and will investigate whether a public referendum is possible.
“We’re not sitting on our heels on this one,” Mayor Robert N. Wells Jr. said. “We just need some time.”
The village has fluoridated its water since the 1970s, but stopped more than a year ago during work on a part of its water system. Opponents don’t want the use of fluoride – which fights tooth decay but which is accused of various health hazards – to resume.
The board hosted a public hearing Thursday on the topic, but there was no consensus on whether the village should continue fluoridating. A public vote, previously thought illegal, might be possible, village attorney Gerald J. Ducharme said.
Ithaca, which rejected fluoridation, passed a law authorizing the question of fluoride to be subject to a local referendum, he said.
Another way of gathering more opinions would be to include a survey on the next water bill, Trustee Sylvia M. Kingston said.
Either method requires an extensive public education campaign, said St. Lawrence University chemistry professor Paul H. Connett, who is opposed to the use of fluoride.
The decision should be based on scientific evidence which many residents may not wish to research, Trustee Stephen M. Putman said.
“I don’t know if you can expect everybody to do that. Private citizen, I don’t know if I would,” he said.
Mr. Wells said he hoped whatever decision is made will be a final one as this is the fourth time the question of fluoridation has come up.
“I think it’s time we find out from the people of Canton if they want fluoride or not,” he said.