The risks of fluoridating Oneida’s water supply greatly exceed the benefits, St. Lawrence University chemistry professor Paul Connett told an audience of about 50 people at City Hall Thursday.

Connett said he has conducted hundreds of anti-fluoride presentations across the country and in Europe. He brought with him a handful of studies that examined fluoridated communities in the United States, Mexico and China, all of which can be viewed at the Web page.

He cited a 1985 (sic) paper by a French scientist that tracked people with hyperthyroid conditions. The subjects were given fluoride each day and, according to the study, treatment was successful.

The thyroid gland tells the body to break down sugar, so people with low thyroid levels have less energy and gain more weight, Connett explained.

“The question is, if fluoride lowers the level of hyperthyroid, what does it do to someone with a normal thyroid gland?” he said.

Fluoride already exists in processed foods and beverages, Connett said.

“We are already getting too much fluoride today. By the time we prove it completely, it’ll be too late. If in doubt, leave it out,” he said.

Fluoride is the active ingredient in most toothpastes and aids in the prevention of tooth decay.

In Madison County, only public water systems serving Sullivan, Chittenango, Canastota, Hamilton and Morrisville have fluoridated water.

Oneida’s water system, which also serves several towns in Madison and Oneida counties, has about 20,000 customers.

Fluoridation has been an emotional issue in Oneida since 1978, when the Common Council narrowly defeated a proposal to fluoridate the city water supply. The council has not scheduled a public hearing or vote on this issue yet.

Proponents say fluoridation is the most cost-effective way to prevent tooth decay in adults and children. The American Dental Association says fluoridation may be the only method of prevention available for some low-income people who don’t regularly don’t see a dentist.

Fluoridation costs about 50 cents per person per year, while sealants and other dental procedures cost between $15 and $45, according to Madison County public health educator James Kinsella, who gave a pro-fluoridation presentation at City Hall in January.

While Kinsella is quick to point out that fluoride cannot be harmful in doses of one part per million, Connett said there are cases of skeletal fluorosis in places where the level is as low as four parts per million.

“The margin of safety here is ridiculously low,” Connett said.

Fluorosis is the discoloring of teeth and bones due to high fluoride exposure. Fluoride proponents say fluorosis is little more than a cosmetic problem, but opponents say fluorosis also causes teeth and bones to become more brittle.