York Town Square

Part of the USAToday Network

Who you gonna call to stop tooth decay? Not York Water Co.

Cartoonist Walt Partymiller applauds the decision in Lancaster to fluoridate in October 1960. The artist never was able to give kudos for such a vote by the York Water Co. Background posts: Mile-a-minute weed’s York County origin questioned and Where is the world is Webb’s Hill?and York’s Reservoir Hill: ‘My ‘reward’ was to sit in the gazebo at the top of the hill’.

The 1960s was not the York area’s finest decade.
Its leaders tore down irreplaceable buildings. They further tore at the community’s social fabric with their attack dogs and prickly attitudes toward race relations.
They tried to solve a mid-decade drought by calling in a rainmaker… .

Perhaps the same superstition that ended in the ill-fated call to the man with a rain-making box informed the community leadership’s lack of thirst for fluoridated water flowing from York Water Co. spigots.
They had a shot at adding the fluoride that, according to virtually all health authorities, prevents tooth decay.
In October 1960 – almost 50 years ago – Lancaster’s powers voted yes on the fluoride question. To put that moment in perspective in history, the vote came during the height of the Kennedy-Nixon campaign.
York missed its chance, and its largest water supplier has been making excuses for not adding fluoride ever since.
The water company board is sticking with a 1995 statement saying it’s waiting for a legislative order before adding the fluoride.
Maybe it’s time to call in a fluoride maker.
Perhaps in the absence of common sense, such a man with a wooden box would play better in the still-superstitious minds of water company decision-makers.
The following is just one editorial put forth by the York Daily Record/Sunday News over the years attempting to frame the issue and push for action:

York Water Co.’s empire keeps seeping outward like, well, a water glass spilled on a tablecloth.
It’s been moving westward, with customers in Abbottstown and Gettysburg. And southwest: It recently agreed on a deal to buy West Manheim Township’s water system.
It may even soon cross the Mason-Dixon Line and provide H2O to Manchester, Md.
But you have to wonder how many of the new or prospective future customers know their water is missing a crucial ingredient.
Not the H — or the 2. And not the O.
There’s no F — as in, fluoride (technically, it’s fluorine, from which fluoride is derived).
Despite years — maybe even decades — of pleas from local health advocates, the water company has steadfastly refused to add this proven cavity-fighting ingredient to its product.
In recent weeks, prompted by news stories and editorials, some readers have written letters to the editor urging against fluoridation of the water supply. They use such hyberbolic terms as “poison,” referring to fluoride, and decry what they perceive to be “forced medication” of the community.
It’s a load of paranoid nonsense.
The bottom line is that fluoridation has proven to be a safe and effective practice for more than 60 years. According to 2002 data, about 170 million people in the United States live in areas where the water is fluoridated.
Fluoridation is approved by the following respected organizations:
• The American Dental Association.
• The American Medical Association.
• The U.S. Surgeon General.
• The Centers for Disease Control.
These are the top experts on the issue in the nation.
And yet, the York Water Co., a forward-looking organization whose board is peopled by well-informed, progressive community leaders, refuses to embrace this sound public health policy. Why?
The company acknowledges that fluoridated water can help prevent tooth decay in children but says it will not add fluoride unless ordered to do by the state or federal government. You can read the company’s fluoridation stance on its Web site at www.yorkwater.com. The statement was issued in 1995 — 12 years ago.
Isn’t it time to revisit that policy?
Take another look at the issue.
Review the scientific documentation.
Read the American Dental Association’s “Fluoridation Facts” report, available online, which debunks much of the fear-mongering and nutty conspiracy theories (which abound on the Web) about fluoridation.
Current customers — and potential new customers — should be aware “that good York water” isn’t quite as good as it could be.
They should demand a better product.
And so should the members of the company’s board.