POTSDAM — Village trustees held a public hearing Monday to receive public comment on whether to continue fluoridating the village’s water.
Unlike previous public comments, which were universally opposed to fluoridation, the eight people who shared their views Monday were evenly divided between supporting and opposing continued fluoridation of the water.
The public comment began with Thomas D. Whitesell, a resident in the village.
“Somewhere in the vicinity of 20 years ago … Canton decided to stop fluoridating their water,” Mr. Whitesell said. “Cut to the chase, I think they all seem fine.”
Mr. Whitesell’s main complaint was that fluoridating municipal water gives people no options as to whether they want fluoridated water or not.
“Water is water, and a lot of people wish it would stay that way,” he said.
Speaking after him was Lee H. Akin, a surgeon at North Country Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Potsdam, who supported keeping fluoridation, citing, among other sources, a 2010 panel assembled by the Department of Health and Human services.
“The panel reviewed all the scientific data and found no evidence substantial enough to support claims that fluoride causes unwanted health effects,” Dr. Akin said.
The one adjustment recommended by the panel, according to Dr. Akin, was reducing recommended levels of fluoride in water down to counter fluorosis, a discoloring of teeth that results from excess fluoride and is usually only a cosmetic issue.
“As trustees, we have entrusted you to do what is right and good for the village of Potsdam, and I believe that the benefits of fluoridation greatly outweigh the suggested negatives,” he concluded.
Other residents generally agreed that fluoridation was beneficial for reducing cavities, while expressing concern about other health impacts or the right to choose non-fluoridated water.
Vanessa Lucas, a resident who said she worked at the hospital, said she saw the benefits of fluoride and did not have dental insurance for her children.
“But I do have a lot of friends in this town who take a more natural approach at life, and I respect that,” she said. “I do not think it’s fair to them, if they do not want this in their water.”
Two dentists from Canton, Dr. Curt Ross and Dr. Mark Franke, came to testify to the adverse effects of the lack of fluoride in the town.
“About 15 years ago, we took (fluoride) out of Canton’s water,” Dr. Ross said. “It took about eight to 10 years before I started seeing things, but after that point … I’ve seen a marked increase in the cavities in the children.”
Dr. Ross said the main beneficiary was not the children and older patients he saw, but the ones who did not have access to dental care.
“When you have a child that’s 6 years old or 7 years old, and they have five cavities, I can’t work on them, I end up sending them to a specialist,” he said. “It’s a great deal of money we have to pay for that. … It will be your grandchildren who will see those results.”
Dean Laubscher, an outspoken opponent of fluoridation, also spoke.
His issue, he said, was not with medical grade fluoride, but the grade used in water, which he claims is a way for industry to sell off a toxic byproduct.
“I am not here to debate the possible dental benefits of visiting your dentist to receive a topically applied, pharmaceutical grade fluoridation,” Mr. Laubscher said. “I am here to inform, educate and discuss the adverse affects of how the phosphate fertilizer industry has been successful in converting a hazardous waste material … into a salable product.”
At the conclusion of the last testimony, given by Dr. Franke, trustee Nicholas J. Sheehan asked about the relative merits of various kinds of fluoride additives to water.
Mr. Laubscher said that the water additives were much cheaper than pharmaceutical grade.
Mr. Akin responded, saying “I’ve never put fluoride in the water, I never stated I was a community fluoridation expert … (but) I’d be happy to follow up on that and see if there is a recommendation. My thought is now, the fluoride you’re putting in the water is perfectly safe.”
The trustees are currently researching whether to continue fluoridating water at the water treatment plant, as the equipment is aging and needs either to be replaced or removed. The village currently has a grant from the state to study the cost of replacing the equipment, so if it decides to end fluoridation, it would have to return the money.
*Original article online at http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/news05/potsdam-holds-public-hearing-on-fluoridation-20171003