Dental experts, residents concerned about personal liberties and conspiracy theorists weighed in Monday at a public meeting on Shiloh Water Co.’s plan to stop adding fluoride to its water.
The meeting of the water company board members at the West Manchester Township Municipal Building came as Shiloh Water awaitis approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection to remove fluoride from the water supplied to roughly half of the township.
More than 30 people attended the meeting.
“It’s just really simple for me. It’s considered a drug by the Federal Drug Administration,” said Mary Baxter, of West Manchester Township. “We should have the choice of drugs we’re taking. I don’t know how the township can choose to medicate us.”
Others in support of the removal of fluoride made claims it leads to osteoporosis and attention deficit disorder, debunked theories that are often used to argue against the use of fluoride.
Shiloh Water is schedule to hold a vote in the last week of March, said Jim Bentzel, the chairman of Shiloh’s board, who added that some of claims made during the meeting “weren’t entirely true.”
Local dentists were present and offered their expert opinions.
“There is a crisis with cavities, and dental decay is an epidemic,” said York City-based dentist Joe Mountain. “Fluoride in water is one of the few tools we have. It it very safe. The history is there, the evidence is there.”
Science is largely on the side of the dentists who spoke.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called fluoridation of public water systems one of the most successful public health initiatives in the country’s history. Fluoride has been shown to prevent cavities and have an overall positive effect on dental health.
After hearing testimonies from both sides, Bentzel declined to say whether they swayed his decision that will come in late March.
The West Manchester Township Board of Supervisors has come out strongly against the water authority’s effort to remove fluoride.
But while the board appoints members to the authority’s board, it has no jurisdiction over the water supplier’s decision, under state law. The authority is considered a municipal agency, answerable solely to state regulators.
If Shiloh’s application is approved, fluoridation could be stopped within 30 days.