Fluoride Action Network

York Daily Record Calls for Fluoridation of York

Source: York Daily Record | March 3rd, 2002 | Daily Record staff
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  • Fluoridation of community drinking water began in the late 1940s and is credited with dramatic reductions in tooth decay.

    In 1999, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) included water fluoridation in its list of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century. Studies show that fluoride prevents the formation, slows the progression of new cavities.

    Yet, the York Water Company still won’t fluoridate your water. The board of directors’ statement against it is on page 3 (see below).

    “Until as recently as 60 years ago, the damage caused by caries was an inevitable fact of life for most people,” according to the CDC. “The disease often meant many visits to the dentist to have damaged and painful teeth repaired or removed. Today, primarily as a result of fluoride, damage caused by this problem can be reduced and, in many instances, prevented.”

    A complete report is available at the CDC Web site: www2.cdc.gov/mmwr/.

    “One of the health objectives contained in Healthy People 2010, the plan that sets health goals for the nation for the year 2010, calls for at least 75 percent of the nation’s people to be served by community water systems providing optimal levels of fluoride. The current level is 65.8 percent,” the CDC said.

    Pennsylvania is already behind the times with only 54.2 percent of its population receiving fluoridated water through public water systems. So York Water Company’s refusal obstructs any state efforts to achieve the 75 percent national goal.

    In 1998, the state Health Department, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Dental Association, announced a three-year grant program to increase use of fluoride in community water systems to help prevent tooth decay. Grants were available to help cover the costs of converting to a fluoridated system.

    “The Health Department and the Pennsylvania Dental Association urge local officials, concerned citizens and health professionals in communities with fluoride-deficient water systems to take action to promote the use of fluoride,” Charles M. Ludwig, then-public health dentist with the department’s Oral Health Program, said. “The Fluoride Grant Program can help them accomplish that goal.” About $300,000 was made available under the grant program. Kittanning, Edgeworth Borough and the City of Allentown took advantage of the program before it ended Dec. 31, 2000. Not York.

    How could The York Water Company refuse an offer like that?

    For more than 40 years, the American Dental Association has endorsed fluoridation of community water supplies as safe and effective for preventing tooth decay

    “Fluoride’s benefits are particularly important for those Americans, especially children, who lack adequate access to dental care. It is safe, effective and by far the best bang for the nation’s public health buck,” said ADA President Richard F. Mascola.

    “Thanks in large part to community water fluoridation, half of all children ages 5 to 17 have never had a cavity in their permanent teeth,” the ADA said. “According to the April 2000 Journal of Dental Research, the use of fluoride in the past 40 years has been the primary factor in saving some $40 billion in oral health care costs in the United States.”

    In addition to the ADA, nearly 100 national and international organizations recognize the public health benefits of community water fluoridation for preventing dental decay.

    They include the World Health Organization, the U.S. Public Health Service, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the International Association for Dental Research, the National PTA and the American Cancer Society.

    Still, the York Water Company does not fluoridate water.

    “Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease, affecting 50 percent of first graders and 80 percent of 17-year-olds,” according to the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA). The organization also said water fluoridation costs, on average, 72 cents per person per year in U.S. communities (1999 dollars).

    The American Dental Association concluded: “No matter how you get the fluoride you need — whether it be through your drinking water, supplements, toothpaste, mouth rinse or professionally applied fluoride — you can be confident that fluoride is silently at work fighting decay. Safe, convenient, effective . . . however you describe it, fluoride fits naturally into any dental care program. For more information about the oral health benefits of fluoride, just ask your dentist.”

    That’s a good idea. Next time you visit your dentist, do this:

    Before getting your teeth cleaned, ask your dental hygienist: Do you think the York Water Company should add fluoride to our water? Then, when your dentist checks your mouth, ask: Should the York Water Company fluoridate our water?

    To those good people on the York County Water Company board of directors we say: Come on folks, it’s your call. You can do it. Don’t let yet another generation of young people go without this important health care protection.

    Do it for the kids. They deserve your care.

    ————————————————————————

    York Daily record

    March 3, 2002

    Water company awaits orders

    The following is the York Water Company Board of Directors’ fluoridation statement, dated July 24, 1995:

    The Board of Directors of The York Water Company has completed an extensive review of the issue of whether or not to add fluoride to the water distributed by the Company to its customers. Included in the review were comments received by phone or in writing from many of the Company’s customers; comments from various medical, dental, and health interest groups; legal issues pertaining to the subject; and, a very thorough and extensive in-house report prepared by the Company’s management which included substantial studies from various research reports and groups. The review process has been conducted carefully and deliberately over a period of several months.

    From information reviewed, each member of the Board of Directors believes that fluoride received by children in appropriate dosages is of significant assistance in reducing the incidence of tooth decay in those children. Such appropriate dosages, which may or may not be received via the public water supply, can be received by children in various other ways including brushing with a tooth paste containing fluoride, receiving special fluoride treatments from their dentists, by tablets administered under the supervision of their parents or guardians or schools and by the purchase of bottled water containing fluoride. It is the Board’s understanding that fluo ride tablets for many years have been, and continue to be, made available free of charge, with parental permission, to elementary school age children who attend the York City School District. The Company has not been made aware of any other school districts or clinics in the Company’s service area that also provide similar no-cost fluoride treatment.

    The Company’s Board of Directors is also aware that the introduction of fluoride into the water supplied by the Company would not only affect all children within the Company’s service area, whether the parents give their permission or not, but would also affect each and every customer, regardless of the age, regardless of the appropriateness, regardless of the current level of personal fluoride intake or personal sensitivity to fluo ride, and regardless of the personal choice of those customers. It is physically impossible for the Company to provide fluori dated water to some of its customers and not to others.

    A decision to add or not to add fluoride to the Company’s water supply is fundamentally a question involving the public health and well-being of all of the customers in the Company’s service area. Because of these concerns, the Company believes that the appropriate forum to address that issue is a governmental body responsible for public health and water quality standards. Furthermore, the Board is aware of the long-standing practice of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection that does not require water suppliers to add fluoride to water supplies, but prohibits discontinuance of fluoridation once it has begun.

    Accordingly, while the Board is appreciative of all the materials and comments that have been provided to it, both in favor of and against adding fluoride to the Company’s water supply, the Board believes that due to the conflicting viewpoints the issue is one that can only properly be resolved at the state or national level and has therefore reaffirmed its prior policy in the following terms:

    The matter of fluoridation of a public water supply basically involves a question of public health and is therefore a societal decision, with significant legal considerations.

    Decisions on all public health questions should be made by National or State Public Health Authorities or by the legislative branch of the government. Because the Company has a fully interconnected system serving water to 23 separate municipalities, it is impossible to serve fluoridated water to some and not to others.

    We stand ready, willing and able to fluoridate the water supplied by The York Water Company to its customers upon receipt from one of the following bodies who have jurisdiction over water quality matters of:

    1. A proper order from the Environmental Protection Agency, requiring the fluoridation of public water supplies throughout the United States.

    2. A proper order from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, requir ing fluoridation of public water supplies throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

    3. Enactment of a statute by the Legislature of Pennsylvania, signed into law by the Governor, requiring the fluoridation of public water supplies throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The current board of directors are: Horace Keesey III, William T. Morris, Irvin S. Naylor, George Hay Kain III, Chloe R. Eichelber ger, John L. Finlayson, Michael W. Gang, Thomas C. Norris, George W. Hodges.