Shippensburg Borough Authority decided this week to not stop adding fluoride to the local water supply and to continue to do research on what concentration of the chemical should be used.
The board first discussed the issue at a meeting earlier this month, when it was brought to their attention that the recommendation for fluoride concentration was lowered by the federal government last year. Area medical professionals were sought out for their opinions on discontinuing fluoridation.
“The authority at the last meeting said we wanted input from the community and we got a (great) response,” Board Member Dennis Fleagle said at Tuesday’s meeting.
Several area doctors and dentists wrote letters to the Authority recommending the use of fluoride, according to Earl Parshall, borough manager, with a number of medical professionals being present during the meeting. Fluoride helps to prevent tooth decay, but some argue that it may cause serious health problems.
The system currently runs flouride at a range between 0.9 to 1.1 parts per million. The Environmental Protection Agency has suggested a range of 0.7 to 1.4 PPM.
Parshall said the probability of the expense outweighing the potential savings, might not make the reduction worth it.
“If were not going to eliminate it, Larson and I talked it over and we could probably just leave it where it is. Because to get a major permit change is several thousands of dollars and to go from .9 to .7, I’m not really sure it’s cost effective to do that,” Parshall said.
“To go from 0.9 to 0.7 were going to save about $3,000 on a $25,000 bill a year, you’re going to eat that much up in permit and time with Department of Environmental Protection,” Louis Larson, water foreman said. “It doesn’t matter if you reduce it or get rid of it, the cost is going to be the same.”
If the plant were to be found to be running at any level other than what is stated on their permit — a range of 0.9 to 1.2 ppm — they would be in violation, which would be a citation and possible fine, that Larson said could be “thousands of dollars.”
According to the Feb. 14 Authority meeting minutes, Larson said that fluoride is a “hazardous chemical which is dangerous to handle and destructive.”
The board tasked Authority Engineer Dan Hershey with researching the best chemical tolerance range and making a recommendation to the group.