Ford City will stop adding fluoride to its drinking water when its water plant being built next year goes into service.

“This is a matter of removing a poison,” said Borough Manager Eden Ratliff. “And it’s about the government not forcibly medicating our population.”

The American Dental Association endorses fluoridation as safe, effective and necessary for preventing tooth decay, but fluoride opponents say the chemical causes a range of health problems — from cancer to tooth enamel defects.

Ford City resident Marc Perella, who is among those opponents, was at the Monday meeting when council voted to eliminate fluoride from its water supply after broaching the subject several times in the past three years.

“I’m very happy. I believe we should have a choice whether we have fluoride in our water or not, and right now I don’t,” Perella said. “I’ve got young kids. I don’t think they should be drinking fluoride.”

Council agreed with that sentiment, voting 5-0 to remove the chemical it has added to its water for more than 60 years. Councilman Gene Banks was absent from the meeting.

“The question has become why? Why are we doing this?” said Council Vice President Jerry Miklos. “It’s absolutely absurd in my opinion.”

Data from the Centers for Disease Control shows that fluoridation is used in more than half of Pennsylvania’s public water systems.

In Armstrong County, fluoride is used by the Kittanning Suburban Joint Water Authority in Adrian, which serves North Buffalo, East Franklin, Cadogan, Sugarcreek and Washington, and by Pennsylvania American Water, which serves Kittanning Borough. Ford City was one of the first communities in the county to add fluoride to its water in 1951.

“If we were one of the first to add it, then I’m glad to be one of the first to remove it,” Ratliff said.