EBENSBURG – Water from Ebensburg will continue to include fluoride – for now.
After hearing pleas from three area dentists, a state oral health advocate and a concerned resident, Ebensburg Municipal Authority Members voted unanimously Monday to rescind last month’s action to remove the fluoride.
The fluoride was never removed, authority Chairman Gerald McMullen said, explaining the action required state notification and other tasks that were not complete.
“We formally approved it, but we were still in the process,” McMullen said.
Ebensburg dentist Philip Woo, Lilly dentist Nicole Falchini Oravec and Westmont dentist Robert Callahan urged authority members to continue adding fluoride, citing oral health benefits.
“I feel this is going to be a major detriment for this area,” Oravec said of the authority’s previous action removing fluoride.
“We are going to see it 10 or 15 years from now. Those are the teeth that will develop problems. We need to do what we can to supplement that.”
The issue could come up again as early as next month.
McMullen first suggested the authority should delay implementation until a fifth board member joins the authority next month. But authority member Doug Tusing said the proper action would be to rescind the previous action. Solicitor Theresa Homady agreed.
Board member Robert Datsko made the motion, adding the fluoride would continue “until we have more information.”
Helen M. Hawkey, executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition for Oral Health, told authority members the benefits of fluoride have been proven for decades.
Any studies showing adverse effects were conducted in unregulated areas where there was too much fluoride added, she said.
“You have to look at the studies,” Hawkey said.
“You can’t just read the headlines that come across social media. Too much of anything is not a good thing.”
Woo said he was shocked the authority voted to remove the fluoride without consulting area dentists.
Woo said he has patients from other areas who do not get fluoride in their water.
“I look at it now, and what a marked difference,” Woo said.
“It is such a benefit we provide in Ebensburg.”
The authority last month voted to remove the fluoride after Greater Johnstown Water Authority took the additive out of Johnstown water. Ebensburg gets at least 60,000 gallons of Johnstown water every day, said Jeff Evans, public works director. Total daily usage is about 750,000 gallons.
Water coming from Johns-town will continue to be fluoride-free because it does not pass through the authority’s water treatment plant, Borough Manager Daniel Penatzer said.
The Johnstown water enters the system in Jackson Township.
Those customers will not get fluoride, Penatzer said. Customers in the area of Ebensburg Airport will get a mixture, so the amount of fluoride will be lower. Those in the Borough of Ebensburg will get the recommended level of fluoride.
“I am extremely excited,” Woo said after the meeting. “I’m just glad they listened to the dental community this time.”
McMullen promised to notify all those in attendance Monday before any future vote on the fluoride issue.
“I’m very happy that the board voted to rescind and I hope they don’t make the same mistake again,” Woo said. “If it happens again, we will be here to fight it again.”
Caption under photo: Helen Hawkey (left), executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition for Oral Health, and Ebensburg-area dentists Nicole Falchini Oravec and Philip Woo talk after a Ebensburg Municipal Authority meeting on Monday, Nov. 20, 2017.
*Original article and video of meeting online at http://www.tribdem.com/news/watch-video-ebensburg-municipal-authority-votes-to-keep-fluoride-in/article_89795940-ce74-11e7-8c6f-438c203b1f81.html