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West Manchester fluoride meeting canceled due to coronavirus concern

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch
West Manchester Township Board of Supervisors, from left, Laura Mummert, Kelly Kelch, Steven Harlacher, Rosa G. Hickey and David S. Markel during a special meeting with Shiloh Water Authority at the West Manchester Township Municipal Building in West Manchester Township, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. The authority submitted an application to the Department of Environmental Protection in November requesting permission to discontinue adding fluoride to water. Dawn J. Sagert photo

A meeting to determine the future of fluoride for West Manchester Township was canceled because of coronavirus concerns, officials said Tuesday.

Shiloh Water Authority decided to cancel its March 25 board meeting, a day after Gov. Tom Wolf declared a state of emergency and urged the closure of “nonessential businesses” in the state.

Jim Bentzel, the chairman of Shiloh's board, said the authority will continue plans to remove fluoride from West Manchester Township's drinking water once the public health situation improves.

Chairman Jim Bentzel, of Shiloh Water Authority speaks during a special meeting with West Manchester Township Board of Supervisors in West Manchester Township, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. The authority submitted an application to the Department of Environmental Protection in November requesting permission to discontinue adding fluoride to water. Dawn J. Sagert photo

While the authority's board first approved the plan to remove fluoride in February 2019, Shiloh officials reconsidered after negotiations with local supervisors and discussions with officials from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Township residents attended a public hearing last month to weigh in.

"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." 

Lee Woodmansee, of Shiloh Water Authority, speaks during a special meeting held by the board of supervisors  at the West Manchester Township Municipal Building in West Manchester Township, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. The authority submitted an application the Department of Environmental Protection in November requesting permission to discontinue adding fluoride to water. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Local dentists were also 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 is very safe. The history is there; the evidence is there."

Science is largely on the side of the dentists who spoke.

Shiloh Water System in West Manchester Township, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The CDC 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. 

Shiloh Water Authority submitted an application to the state Department of Environmental Protection in November requesting that it be allowed to stop adding fluoride to its water.

If Shiloh's application is approved, fluoridation could be stopped within 30 days. 

Shiloh Water Authority's board meetings are typically held at 8 p.m. on the last Wednesday of the month at the authority office, located at 2115 Log Cabin Rd.

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.