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Fluoridation Starts in Allentown

Allentown's water system serves 4 municipalities


Allentown's water system serves three suburban municipalities as well as the more than 40,000 properties inside the city. If you live outside Allentown, here's a guide to determine whether your water is now fluoridated:

In Hanover Township, Lehigh County, nearly all properties will now be served by fluoridated water from either Allentown or Bethlehem, which has been fluoridating its water for years.

The only exceptions are the few properties with their own wells.

The newly fluoridated sections of Hanover that receive Allentown water are along Irving Street, Airport Road and Hoover Avenue, south of Route 22, including the Allendale Apartments.

In South Whitehall Township, the fluoride is harder to pinpoint. Much of the township is serviced by Allentown water -- block after block of water lines in Allentown's West End extend directly into the township -- but the supply is integrated with a dozen municipal wells across South Whitehall.

"It mixes all over the place," said Gerald Gasda, township manager. "It's a real checkerboard."

Depending on demand and how many wells are in service, customers on a given day might receive fluoridated Allentown water, unfluoridated township well water or some mixture of the two. Generally, township residents who live closer to Allentown can assume they are receiving a stronger concentration of fluoride while those in the far western and northern sections of the township can assume they are receiving none, according to Gasda.

In Salisbury Township, nearly all residents will now receive fluoridated water from either Allentown or Bethlehem.

The exceptions are properties on South Mountain with private wells; a small number of addresses along the township border which receive unfluoridated Emmaus water; the dozen or so homes in the Alex Court subdivision in the western end of the township which receive water from the Lehigh County Authority; and the fewer than 20 customers west of Cedar Crest Boulevard who receive water from South Whitehall Township. But the South Whitehall water in that section will be mostly fluoridated Allentown water.

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2 fluoride proponents get accolades for work

Allentown men receive Leonard Pool Prize, $1,000 for helping to put the chemical in city water.
Of The Morning Call

Two leaders of the 1999 campaign to fluoridate Allentown's water were honored Monday by the Dorothy Rider Pool Health Care Trust during a ceremony at the city's filtration plant.

Allentown dentist Jack Karabasz and former city Councilman Frank Concannon received the Leonard Pool Prize, which has been awarded to just five people since it was created by the heath care trust more than two decades ago.

Both men received a plaque and a check for $1,000. The prize is named for Air Products and Chemicals founder Leonard P. Pool, who organized what today is known as the Lehigh Valley Hospital and started the trust fund he named for his wife.

Concannon, now city controller, received the prize for his work to win passage of fluoridation by City Council, and Karabasz won his award for organizing community support, according to Dr. Lawrence P. Levitt, a Pool foundation trustee.

He said Karabasz attended so many meetings at City Hall during the drive for passage that Levitt recommended to Mayor William L. Heydt that Karabasz be made a full-time city employee and awarded a pension.

After more than 40 years of debate and court fights, City Council in January 1999 ordered fluoridation of the city's water service. Installing equipment and training personnel took more than a year, and a low-grade test of fluoridation began on Nov. 28 when the city began adding the cavity-fighting chemical at 0.22 parts per million.

By Monday, the flow had been increased to 0.70 parts per million. The amount is expected to reach 1 part per million in coming days. Experts say that is the optimum level needed to fight tooth decay without causing the body harm.

Officials decided to ease toward full fluoridation over a few weeks rather than implement it all at once to give water works personnel a chance to become accustomed to working with the equipment that monitors the flow and to give the city's largest water customer, Lucent Technologies, a chance to experiment with processes to remove the fluoride.

The company needs ultra-pure water to manufacture computer chips.

Lucent officials report no problems with the fluoride so far, and the company has been successful in removing it, along with other natural and man-made impurities, from the water.

About a half-dozen children from Lehigh Valley Child Care were on hand, and each of them, along with everybody in the room, received a water bottle and holder to commemorate the startup of fluoridation. The items were handed out by Leslie Kingston, dressed as the Tooth Fairy, who, under the auspices of the Lehigh Valley Dental Society Alliance, makes numerous appearances at schools each February during National Dental Health Week.

"We're thrilled to death Allentown has fluoridated water," said Kingston.

Also present were Barbara Stader, director of Allentown's Bureau of Health; Caswell A. Evans Jr., who wrote the "Surgeon's General's Report on Oral Health," published last May; and Neil Gardner of the state Health Department.

The Pool Trust contributed $500,000 and the state Health Department gave $25,000 to pay for installing the fluoridation equipment and covering the first year's cost of adding the chemical to the water supply.

Said Levitt, "If Leonard Pool is looking down, I know he would be proud of us."

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Last modified: 6 August 2001

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