Connecticut passed a law in 1965 mandating that public water supplies serving more than 20,000 people have a fluoride concentration of at least 8 milligrams per liter. This tiny concentration has virtually no effect on the smell, taste or appearance of tap water.
But Markley, a Republican from Southington, put forth legislation this year to abolish Connecticut's policy, saying that it unfairly adds an extra expense to cash-strapped town budgets. The bill failed, but Markley said he'll bring it back next year. On Wednesday, he said he wanted both sides of the fluoridation debate to make their case.
"As a principle, politically, I try to listen to everybody as much as possible," Markley said. "I like to hear people who know what they're talking about differ on a topic."
Speaking for more than an hour, Connett presented several studies that he said prove fluoridation is actually harmful, that it can have adverse effects on tooth enamel, as well as damaging impacts on bones and brains of young children.
Even if fluoride were medically beneficial, he said, it shouldn't be put in the water by government. Instead, people should choose whether they want to buy and use fluoride themselves, as they would any other medication.
But absent from Wednesday's discussion were dentists, who widely support the fluoridation policy.
Connecticut State Dental Association President Mark Desrosiers said in an interview that his group had accepted an invitation from Markley. But they backed out when they heard Connett would be there. The association instead sent a letter that Markley read aloud at the hearing.
"We're very interested in getting the information and history and the science of fluoride out to people," said Desrosiers, who practices in suburban Hartford. "But we wanted to avoid emotional debates and sensationalism. We just didn't want to have any part of that."