Should there be fluoride in water? Quarryville authority to decide if decades-long program will continue
Later this month, members of the Quarryville Borough Authority will vote to either continue adding fluoride to the water system or discontinue the practice. "We're in the initial stages of removing the fluoride treatment from the system," said authority chairman John Chase. "[Borough] council has indicated they're opposed to it and, on and off over the years, the borough has investigated getting rid of the treatment."
Last month, council president Joy Kemper presented a petition to the authority asking that the practice be discontinued.
"We have had 30 people sign and we will be getting more," she said. Two dentists and a doctor have come down on the other side of the issue, asking the authority to keep putting fluoride in the water.
No matter which way the vote goes on June 18, the decision is likely to be appealed to Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection.
"We're people who want it out and we're people who live in the borough," Kemper said.
Dr. Alan Peterson and dentists Dr. Thomas Regan, and Dr. Richard Albright all testified at the authority's May meeting that putting fluoride in the water helps prevent dental cavities in children and adults. Dr. Peterson outlines the reasons to keep the treatment in the story below.
"Somebody like Dr. Tom Regan is trying to do what he thinks is best for the people," Kemper said.
But, she added, the decision should be made by the people who are served by the borough's public water system.
"It disturbs me that people who do not live in the borough want to make our decisions for us," she said. "It has bothered me for years that it's in the water and there's no treatment system that can remove it."
Adults who want to use fluoride for themselves or their children have other options for the treatment, she added. "They can get it in toothpaste, in mouthwash, and in treatments from their dentists," Kemper said.
"I understand the studies that show its benefits," Chase said. "But I believe every individual has the right to medicate themselves. We're putting it in whether people like it or not and I'm opposed to that."
There are also issues with the process that adds fluoride to the water. "It's dangerous to be around in concentrated form and the borough crew does not like working with it," Kemper said. A small spill several years ago did not result in injuries but the chemical did eat a hole in the concrete floor of the treatment room, she said.
The borough began putting fluoride in its water in the 1950s. The practice began at the behest of Dr. Robert Hess, a local dentist and member of borough council.
It was discontinued briefly in the 1990s, Chase said. "When the well went on line in 1994, for a few years we didn't have fluoride," he said. "In 1996 we made provisions to have it back in the system."
While it is unusual to remove a fluoride treatment system from a public water supply, it has been done, Kemper.
"Manheim Borough removed it about a year ago. I would like to find out why and how they did that," Kemper said.
The authority's next public meeting will be at 7 p.m. on June 18 at borough hall, 300 St. Catherine St. The meeting is open to the public.
Doctors say Quarryville should fluoridate its water
To the Editor:
Municipal officials in Quarryville are discussing no longer adding fluoride to the water. Doctors Tom Regan, Richard Albright and I presented them multiple scientifically referenced studies proving, as the Centers for Disease Centers and Prevention (CDC) says, that “community water fluoridation is one of the top 10 great public health achievements in the 20th century.”
Fluoridation started in the United States in the 1940’s. More than 3,000 studies over 70 years in over 210,000,000 Americans have proven it is safe and effective against tooth decay. There are no proven significant complications or adverse effects that stand up to scientific validated peer-reviewed investigation.
Many who distrust the safety of fluoridation are often misled by those who claim to be main- stream scientists. Those who misrepresent and misinterpret legitimate studies falsely claim that proper fluoridation can be harmful.
Some of those so called experts falsely seeking notoriety claim it is a poison. When used at proven levels it protects, not poisons. Many of the items we put in our mouths can poison at high levels including Tylenol, aspirin, cough medicine, Motrin, and other everyday things we swallow, such as table salt. Fluoride is carefully regulated when placed in public water sources. It protects teeth and does not cause diseases like cancer, kidney, thyroid or the multitudes of other issues the anti-fluoride people claim.
Fluoride is nature’s cavity fighter and naturally exists in almost all water sources. Community water fluoridation simply adjusts the level of fluoride in our water to what is considered an optimal safe level to protect our teeth. Adding fluoride to water is like adding vitamin D to milk, iodine to table salt, and folic acid to bread and cereals.
Water fluoridation benefits everyone, including adults and children. This is especially important for those without access to regular dental care. Lost school hours are estimated to be 51,000,000 per year in our country due to dental-related illness. Imagine how many more school hours would be lost without water fluoridation. (Over 75 percent of municipal water supplies in the United States add fluoride to water.)
The American Dental Association, American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Public Health Association, CDC, and the World Health Organization consider it of prime importance to add fluoride to community water supplies. They would not state this if it were not safe and effective.
Multiple dental and medical professionals have signed a letter asking for fluoride to continue being added to the water locally.
There remains far too much dental disease in our community in terms of cost, suffering, and poor general health to withdraw this valuable tool from our resources.
For most municipalities studies have shown for every $1 invested in community water fluoridation, $38 in dental and health treatment costs are saved. The Quarryville Borough states $5,200 is the total annual cost for fluoride being added to the water here. If this is not done, the cost of added prescribed daily fluoride supplements from pharmacies from age six months through age 16 years for every child in the community, along with increased dental bills for all ages, is much greater.
We believe all municipalities have the responsibility to maintain and improve their people’s health. To stop adding safe effective fluoride to the water supply in Quarryville would significantly worsen dental and health care in our area. If you agree, please let your Quarryville Water Authority and the Borough Council know. The authority's next meeting is Tuesday, June 18 at 7 p.m. at the borough offices at 300 St. Catherine Street.
Alan S. Peterson, MD
Thomas L. Regan, DDS
Richard H. Albright, DDS