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Nationally known anti-fluoridation expert to speak at Watertown City Council meeting

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The man who lobbied to remove fluoridation in the village of Canton 12 years ago will urge city of Watertown officials to do the same.

Paul H. Connett, a professor emeritus of chemistry at St. Lawrence University and the head of Fluoride Action Network, will speak at Monday night’s Watertown City Council meeting about why he believes fluoride should not be in public drinking water supplies.

Mr. Connett, who has cited numerous studies that show fluoride can have dangerous side effects, contends that excessive fluoride exposure increases the risk of damaging tooth enamel.

Watertown Anti-fluoridation Action, a group of more than 40 residents, invited Mr. Connett to attend the work session, which starts at 7 p.m. in the third-floor council chambers at City Hall, 245 Washington St.

Mr. Connett also will make a presentation at 4 p.m. Monday at Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library, 229 Washington St.

In recent months, the local anti-fluoride group has been attending City Council meetings to urge officials to take fluoride out of the city’s water supply. The city began adding fluoride to its water in 1962.

In the past 20 years, Mr. Connett has given more than 2,000 public presentations on fluoride, incineration and other solid waste issues.

Organizer Justin B. Chouinard said that Watertown Anti-fluoridation Action is lucky to have Mr. Connett to speak on the group’s behalf.

“He’s known throughout the country and the world,” Mr. Chouinard said. “He’s great to have in our corner.”

City Water Superintendent Michael J. Sligar, who remains a fluoride proponent, said he does not know much about Mr. Connett.

“I would speculate he has a bias,” Mr. Sligar said. “I’m anxious to listen to him. I anticipate hearing nothing new.”

Mr. Chouinard, a father of a 7-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son, got involved in the group partly because he worries about the risk that fluoride has on his children. That’s why he purchases spring water in 5-gallon jugs from a local bottling company, he said.

Starting out with about 15 city residents, the group has been working to persuade the council to eliminate fluoride from the water supply because they believe it damages teeth and causes other health problems.

The regional chapter of the New York State Dental Association and individual dentists have come out in support of fluoridation. They say fluoride fights decay and should remain in the water supply. They also contend that reputable studies prove fluoridation is safe.

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