An ongoing and heated debate over the benefits and harmful effects of fluoridating public water came to Hamilton April 28.
To present both sides of the discussion, the village brought Paul Connett, a retired chemistry professor and anti-fluoridation advocate, and Jayanth Kumar, director of oral health surveillance and research at the Bureau of Dental Health for the New York Department of Health. The two spent two hours debating the merits and detriments of fluoridation.
Connett gave a variety of reasons that he said public utilities should not fluoridate their water.
Utilities can control concentration, but not dose, Connett said. Additionally, the form of fluoride used is a waste product of farming, not pharmaceutical grade, he said.
Fluoridating the water can cause fluoridosis, a discoloring of the teeth. Connett said this discoloration can have serious psychological effects.
Too much fluoride has subtle but large-scale effects on the IQ of developing children, Connett said — he proposed that fluoride can be obtained from much safer and more controllable sources.
Kumar spoke to the benefits of fluoridation. He said that the minimum financial investment of fluoridating water has resulted in millions of dollars in savings in tooth decay treatments and health costs. Connett’s studies, Kumar said, were scientifically invalid — a collection of observations rather than controlled experiments with set variables.
“These things have been reviewed, re-reviewed and re-reviewed,” Kumar said.
The meeting at the library continued a fact-finding process by the village of Hamilton that has been ongoing for two years. No decision will be made for some time, officials said.