It’s been more than three years since West Manheim officials made the decision to keep fluoride in the township’s public water supply, but several residents are now asking that the supervisors reconsider that decision.
When Karen Berger moved to the township from Maryland several years ago, she had no idea that West Manheim was still adding fluoride to residents’ drinking water, Berger said at a recent council meeting.
“Years ago fluoride was added to drinking water to keep teeth better. But after learning that it could be toxic, almost all residents in Pennsylvania have removed it from their water supplies,” Berger said. “It is no longer a dental issue, it is a public health issue. If there is any possibility that fluoride poisons people, why take the chance?”
Board chairman Harold Hartlaub said that the fluoride debate has been a controversial issue for several years.
“A couple years ago some residents brought this up and we approved to take it out,” Hartlaub said. “Then the next two meetings we had a room full of people, including doctors and dentists, coming to say put it back in. So we went back to fluoride, only at a lower rate.”
Fluoridation was a condition of a 2007 sale when York Water bought the water lines from the township, said township manager Kevin Null.
Records show that West Manheim’s water has been fluoridated since the late 1940s, he said.
The issue of potentially removing the fluoridation began in spring 2012 when York Water notified the township of its intention to adhere to a new Environmental Protection Agency recommendation and reduce fluoride levels in public water to 0.7 milliliters per liter.
When township officials voted to eliminate the fluoridation of the township’s water altogether, several residents tried to change their minds by bringing in expert testimony from area dentists who supported fluoridation.
Then, supervisors voted 4-1 to require York Water Co. to continue fluoridating its supply, reversing their earlier decision, Hartlaub said. Supervisor Marc Woerner cast the dissenting vote.
Last month, a 2012 petition was reintroduced to the board by 21-year-old David Koerner, who asked why West Manheim continues to add fluoride to the water supply.
“It’s a known toxin and can cause brain tumors in children,” Koerner said.
Woerner said he had originally presented the board with the petition, which had been signed by 72 residents several years ago.
“My thought back then, and now, is why make it a one-size-fits-all situation?” Woerner asked. “There are many studies clearly laying out that fluoride is not good for you.”
Even if the supervisors decided stop using fluoride, it may not be possible right away, Null said.
Keeping it in the water is part of the township’s agreement with York Water and that contract will not be renegotiated for several more years, he said.
Supervisors agreed to research the topic and bring their findings back to a future township meeting.
“We are going to contact York Water and find out about the contract. And we are going to do a thorough review of the entire issue,” said supervisor Brian Blettner, who was not on the board when the issue was discussed in previous years.