Fluoride Action Network

Editorial: Put fluoride back in Poughkeepsie’s water

Source: Poughkeepsie Journal | March 4th, 2008
Location: United States, New York

A fight that’s come before local politicians isn’t exactly the kind they’re used to wrangling with. The Poughkeepsie Common Council recently found itself in the middle of a controversy over teeth.

The council recently heard from medical officials, including Dutchess County’s leading health expert, that a recent vote by the local water board to remove fluoride from the water supply should be reversed.

These experts are right. Fluoride should be put back into the water. The unanimous vote by the Poughkeepsie Joint Water Board is the latest in an on-again-off-again timeline on fluoridation in the water system that serves 80,000 in the city and town, as well as in parts of Hyde Park and Wappingers Falls.

At issue now is whether fluoride is good or bad for teeth and for health, in general. There have been controversial studies that indicate otherwise, though leading medical groups reject these.

Still, Frank Mora, a city representative on the water board and chairman when the unanimous vote to halt the fluoridation process took place last month, has said he believes the board should keep fluoride out of the water. He cites a study that shows fluoride may cause thyroid impairment and another that found no correlation between the amount of fluoride in tooth enamel and decreased tooth decay.

Advice was sought from state

Water board members asked for expert advice nearly a year ago from state officials on this and, saying they never got it, took action and halted the fluoride.

They wanted advice. They’ve gotten plenty. And then some. Most of it is in agreement that their decision was wrong.

After the fluoride vote by the board, the Common Council asked Dutchess County Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Caldwell what he thought. He said he had spoken with state health officials and local pediatricians, and his conclusion couldn’t have been more clear. He said the board’s decision puts the dental health of those who can’t afford to go to the dentist at risk.

“No major organization has told me anything other than that the fluoridation of water is good,” the commissioner said. He also said he’s investigating if he has the legal authority to overturn the board’s decision.

On top of Caldwell’s objection, the Department of Pediatrics at Vassar Brothers Medical Center passed a resolution condemning the board’s action.

The New York State Oral Health Coalition also is asking the water board reinstate fluoride, which had been in Poughkeepsie water since the 1950s. And Dr. Herschel Lessin, a leading local pediatrician, cites the overriding benefits of fluoride this century and derides studies that say otherwise.

“Medical decisions made by politicians have a long history of failure,” he noted in an op-ed piece submitted to the Journal.

Enough said. This level of protest by respected medical experts over a policy decision made by those without the expertise speaks volumes.

The water board should reverse its vote as soon as possible.