A more than 50-year practice of adding fluoride to drinking water in West Manheim Township is likely coming to an end.
At last week’s township meeting the supervisors voted 4-1 to ask York Water Co. to discontinue fluoridation of the township’s water – a choice the water company had indicated was up to the township.
Supervisor Carl Gobrecht cast the lone opposing vote, and said the practice has led to children in the area having better teeth.
“Fluoride in the water has been doing so much good for so many years,” Gobrecht said. “I hate to give it up totally at this point.”
York Water Co. notified the township of its intent to adhere to the federal Environmental Protection Agency recommendation that fluoride in public water be reduced from West Manheim’s current 1.0 ml/L to 0.7 ml/L, said J.T. Hand, chief operating officer of York Water.
York Water holds a permit to fluoridate the water in West Manheim, and fluoridation was a condition of the sale when the company bought the water lines from the township, Hand said.
“This is your decision not York Water’s,” Hand said, adding West Manheim is the only municipality served by York Water in which the drinking water has fluoride added.
The fluoridation of West Manheim’s water system requires that 16 pounds of fluoride be delivered through the 300,000 gallons of water used each day, Hand said. And of the entire daily water output, only about 1 percent is actually used for drinking, he said.
“Ninety-nine percent of the fluoridated water goes down the drain and ultimately ends up in the Chesapeake Bay,” said Hand.
Supervisor Marc Woerner agreed with Hand and read from a 40-page report listing reasons the EPA and Department of Health and Human Services recommend lowering or eliminating fluoridation in drinking water.
“The water is not being made any safer to drink by adding fluoride,” said Woerner. “After reading multiple reports from major government agencies I contend that by adding fluoride we are adding a toxin to our water.”
The issue was discussed by the supervisors for nearly an hour as two residents protested the removal of the fluoride.
Valley View Drive resident Frank Kadyszewski said the question of removing all fluoridation from the public water supply should be put on the ballot as a referendum rather than being decided solely by the supervisors.
Kenlee Circle resident David Barber seconded Kadyszewski’s comments, asking the supervisors to consider the referendum.
Woerner said putting such a referendum on the ballot would be an unnecessary expense as residents elected the supervisors to make such decisions.
“The FDA lists fluoride as an unapproved drug.” Woerner said. “The bottom line is that we have acknowledgements from the scientific community that there are other and better ways to get fluoride without having all the negative environmental effects.”
Supervisor Nils Parr agreed with Woerner.
“If individuals need a fluoride source then they can get it from other ways instead of us giving it to them whether they want it or not,” said Parr.
Now that the supervisors have requested fluoridation be discontinued, the next step will be for York Water to petition the EPA for approval, Hand said.
According to EPA regulations, York Water can reduce the amount of fluoride in public water without approvals, Hand said, but in order to remove it entirely the company will need to notify all of West Manheim’s 2,000 public water customers and all area health officials prior to the removal.