Fluoridation Moves In State
HARRISBURG - UP - More than one-third of Pennsylvania's population served by public water supplies now drinks fluoridated water for protection against tooth decay.
The state Health Department's Dental Health Division reported some 3,131,500 persons now receive the treated water in about 67 communities including the two largest cities.
Fluoridation, a controversial subject across the nation, appears to be gaining public support steadily in Pennsylvania. Three cities, Indiana, Sewickley , and West Chester have applications pending in the Health Department to give their communities the chemical.
Two important court fights advancing the state's authority to promote and grant fluoridation projects were won in 1955. Philadelphia entered the fold last year following the denial of an injunction restraining the department in the program. A similar decision was handed down in Lawrence County Court upholding fluoridation in New Castle.
Dr. Linwood Grace, division director, said he expected several other cities to adopt fluoridated drinking water in the near future, including Harrisburg, Lancaster, Reading, York and Beaver Valley.
Grace estimated that in each city receiving treated water it cost each person 10 cents per year for the chemical.
"A bargain when you consider fluoridated water prevents tooth decay by 65 per cent," he said.
Armstrong county's Ford City became the first city in the state to adopt water fluoridation in 1951. Pittsburgh followed the next year.
Both the American Medical Association and the American Dental Association have given the program enthusiastic support.
The Pennsylvania Pure Water Association, one of the leading organizations fighting the movement, bases its objections on "medical and constitutional grounds." The group contends the fluorine compounds are dangerous to health in sufficient quantities and the state has no statutory authority for approving the installations.
Three cities placed the decision of fluoridation to the voters and the measure was voted down in Milton, Meadville and Oil City. However, Health Department officials are privately considering asking for a court ruling on a state law which states matters of public health are to be decided by the local government administrators.
Under the present plan, the state helps each community set up its program. The state issues a permit to fluoride the water after the local board of health and the health and dental societies have approved. The chemical content is about one part fluorine to a million parts of water.