Cobleskill to add fluoride to water once more

The village of Cobleskill will reintroduce fluoride to its drinking water system, reversing a decisi

The village of Cobleskill will reintroduce fluoride to its drinking water system, reversing a decision 18 months ago that halted the practice.

Deputy Mayor Sandy MacKay on Thursday said a majority of the Village Board of Trustees voted in favor of restoring fluoride earlier this week following pleas from Cobleskill dentist Dr. Gary J. Surman and other members of the dental care community.

MacKay said he voted against the measure.

The village voted to stop adding fluoride to the water — a practice continued for more than 50 years — in August 2007.

MacKay said several steps will take place before fluoride — considered an anti-cavity additive — can start flowing again. The village will have to send out notifications to all water system users and buy the chemicals, he said.

MacKay said he doesn’t think there’s much dispute about the cavity-fighting properties of fluoride.

But he said there are two primary views on the issue.

Adding fluoride to the water could be seen as doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people in terms of dental health, he said.

But he’s seen literature that suggests that fluoride could pose health risks to the infirm.

“You are putting, essentially, a medication into the water for the entire population to be consuming, and there are some portions of that population for which it’s not a good idea,” MacKay said.

MacKay said he voted against the measure because he sides with the opinion that if fluoride could harm even a few people, it shouldn’t be added to the water.

Surman said Thursday that he decided to start asking the Village Board to reconsider its decision following a change in board membership. He and other dentists fought against the change.

“We, as the dentists in the village, thought it was inappropriate, and I took it kind of personal that they would do something like that without even contacting us to get a reason to keep it in,” Surman said.

“It just doesn’t make sense, especially now in the economy; you want to do everything you can for prevention,” Surman said.

Schoharie County Public Health Director Kathleen Farrell Stack on Thursday said the department was informed of the decision earlier this week.

“Our position is that we are commending the village board of Cobleskill regarding its commitment to the health of their citizens by acting on its decision to resume the use of fluoride,” Stack said.

Stack said a notification process is required under federal EPA statutes because families have been purchasing fluoride supplements and they’ll have to stop using them to avoid ingesting too much of it.

Village Mayor Michael Sellers could not be reached for comment Wednesday and Thursday.

Categories: Schenectady County

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