Opinion: Why not to put fluoride in Cortland's water supply

Editor's Note: The following is an opinion column from a Cortland resident and does not represent the opinions of The Cortland Voice.

As always, alternative or dissenting viewpoints are welcome. Submit guest columns to [email protected].

There are a plethora of scientific reasons on why not to fluoridate Cortland's water supply.

A partial list includes: The fluoride put into water systems is hydrofluorosilicic acid, or sodium fluorosilicate. These are industrial by products not pharmaceutical grade sodium fluoride found in tooth paste. Cortland City workers will have to handle these chemicals. Workers' health could be jeopardized handling these chemicals in their concentrated form. In the years since Cortland last debated this issue, a source of fluoride put into water supplies now comes from China where there is little oversight. Arsenic and lead are common contaminants.

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Fluoridation corrodes pipes and can leach lead out of aging pipes. The CDC recommends fluoridation. Just ask the people of Flint, Michigan, how much they trust the CDC. The infrastructure of Cortland is aging. Lead in our water would be harmful to our infrastructure, our health, the health of our children, the health of SUNY students and the resale values of our homes.

Related: Should Cortland fluoridate its water supply?

Most compelling to me is delivering a drug via the water supply is an idiotic way to deliver any drug. especially one which has conflicting science to support its use. One should not bathe, wash their car, do their laundry, fill their pool, wash their pets or water their lawns with a drug. If there was no controversy regarding fluoridation, I would still object to using the water supply as a drug delivery system. The population of Cortland is diverse in age, weight, overall health status, other medications we are taking and how much water we consume. The dosing and frequency of fluoride consumption would be quite variable from person to person. Delivering any drug via the water system is ill advised.

Recently the CDC recommended lowering the dose of fluoride in municipal water supplies after determining that we are all receiving fluoride from other sources. If municipalities are using concentrations that are therapeutic, then the dose is high enough to interact with other medications and cause side effects. Dosing our citizens without informed consent is unconscionable. Table top home water filters (i.e. Brita) can not remove Silicofluoride as it is too small. Removing it with reverse osmosis filters is expensive.

The fact of the matter is there is a safe alternative to fluoridating the water supply: brushing your teeth. My son is 16 years old, was born and raised in Cortland without fluoridated water and has never had a cavity. Less objectionable ways to care for the teeth of children would be to have clinics apply fluoride treatments or provide fluoridated bottled water to the children whose parents want this treatment. I have seen some estimates suggesting these methods would be less expensive to carry out if done properly.

The citizens of the City of Cortland have spoken and, thankfully, our elected officials have listened. We do not want a therapeutic dose of fluoride put into our water supply. The subject of fluoridation has been studied extensively. The science is not compelling that fluoridation is safe or effective. I implore the Cortland Common Council, the Cortland County Health Department and our county legislators to not put fluoride into our water supply now or in the future.


Donna Lieberman, DC
Cortland, NY

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