PLATTSBURGH — The much-anticipated vote on whether to continue adding fluoride to the City of Plattsburgh’s drinking water will be held tonight.
The debate over fluoride has been raging in the city for nearly a year.
Opponents of the chemical believe it threatens harmful side effects that can cause numerous health issues.
Supporters believe it is an effective weapon against tooth decay and cannot be linked to any serious health problems in the community.
The city began fluoridating its water in 1956, around the same time many other communities in the country began using fluoride.
A dose of 1 part per 1 million gallons of water is used, and it costs the city about $13 per day to fluoridate the water supply.
Councilor Michael Kelly (D-Ward 2) has been a strong supporter of removing fluoride from the city’s drinking water.
Kelly said that while proving illnesses may be caused by fluoride might be difficult, evidence shows strongly that certain segments of the population should not have it in their water.
“The American Dental Association, one of the biggest supporters of fluoride, says that infants age zero to six months should not have fluoride, the National Kidney Foundation says people with kidney ailments or those on dialysis should not have it, people with diabetes, the elderly with bone ailments should not have it,” Kelly said.
“That’s a large segment of the population in our community, about 5,000 people in Plattsburgh.”
Councilor Amy Valentine (D-Ward 5) also would like to see fluoride eliminated.
“As a municipality, we have jurisdiction over whether we put fluoride in our water, so we need to make an informed council decision,” she said.
“But the conversation has been good, and, if anything, we’ve educated a lot of people about fluoride.”
Councilor James Calnon (I-Ward 4) said the city has not seen an epidemic of fluoride-related illnesses in the 50-plus years it has been using the chemical.
“Facts are facts, and a lot of statements may be true generally, but not specifically,” he said.
“There may be some communities with higher levels of fluoride that there are health problems, but if we maintain our levels here to what it should be, there doesn’t seem to be any health effects.”
One way or another, Calnon said, he hopes the debate ends with the vote at tonight’s meeting, which begins with a work session at 5 p.m., followed by the regular meeting at 5:30. The meeting will be held in the third-floor auditorium because a large crowd is expected.
“Unless there are major changes, I think this should be the end,” Calnon said. “You have to respect the will of the majority, no matter how passionate you are, and move on to other issues.”
Kelly said he doubts the debate will end tonight.
“Science will win eventually,” he said. “As the evidence keeps getting heavier and heavier, it will tip the scales eventually, and fluoride will be a thing of the past, like lead and DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane).”