The Great Fluoride Debate, one of those issues that never seem to die, is back before Schenectady’s City Council. Too bad, because little has changed in the argument against putting the chemical in the public water supply — except the price of fluoride. And even though it has gone up $20,000 since last year, which was $20,000 more than the year before that, it still seems a bargain at roughly $1 per city resident per year, and even less when the city’s outside water sales are factored in.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control, American Dental Association and state Health Department all agree that fluoride is the most cost-effective way to keep people — especially children — from getting cavities. The chemical is not benign, but as long as it’s taken at recommended doses, it is not dangerous. For the purposes of public water supplies, the federal Public Health Service recommends a range of between 0.7 and 1.22 parts per million. For years, Schenectady has used an amount roughly in the middle of that range, 1 ppm.
To save money, and to assuage people like Councilwoman Barbara Blanchard, who fear Schenectadians might be getting too much fluoride, the city could reduce its dosage by 30 percent and still be within the recommended range. That seems like a reasonable compromise until a definitive answer can be obtained as to the optimum level for the city.
But the last thing Schenectady should do is suspend water treatments — unless it wants to blow residents’ and the county’s (Medicaid) dental budgets.