Tyrone Borough Council changes tune on fluoride

TYRONE – Tyrone Borough is keeping fluoride in its water supply.

The half hour deliberation was tense, with nearly two dozen residents, including area dentists and orthodontists, and Drs. Christopher Pine, Jason Bihary, Robert Sloss and Donald Miller, present to voice their opposition to the council’s 6-2 March vote to defluoridate the water.

Monday’s vote also was 6-2, but in favor of keeping fluoride, with Mayor Bill Fink and Councilman Mark Kosoglow voting no.

Along the banister surrounding council members’ desk laid documents provided by Fink, including photocopies of toothpaste labels and material safety data sheets, which council Vice President Christy Ray scolded him for handing out.

She asked whether he provided information on chlorine, which also would be listed as poison, because they are provided to describe a chemical’s properties for handling purposes, not for everyday consumers.

“That’s trickery right there,” she said.

When Pine, an orthodontist, spoke on behalf of the doctors, he echoed many of the points he and other area dentists made in a letter sent May 29 to council members, signed by Pine, Bihary, Miller and Sloss, as well as doctors Francis McClain, Michael Hoover, Gary Kistner and Bryan Aungst.

The group wrote that “as dentists, we question the wisdom and rationale behind the decision” to remove fluoride, citing science from the American Dental Association, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency.

He also said while many can agree that “less is more” when it comes to government interference, their role as representatives is to protect the public, many of whom do not regularly go to the dentist and have fluoride as a last means of defense against decay.

Brad Aults, a former Tyrone Area School District principal, told council that, in his experience, the small number of children who regularly saw a dentist was “astounding” to him.

Pine also said it’s rare that he finds cavities. Of the 379 teeth he examined in 15 kids’ mouths last week, he said there were three small fillings.

“The proof is in peoples’ mouths,” he said.

Resident Amber DeLay said when she first heard about the council’s vote, it sent her into a panic, thinking she was poisoning her 6-month old child.

“Don’t just put one side [of the argument out there],” she said, which Ray said she agreed with.

“All we keep passing out is the fear mongering,” Ray said of Fink’s materials.

In the end, Councilman Terry Richardson asked who in attendance was in favor of keeping fluoride, with hands going up around the room. When asked who wanted it removed, no hands went up.

“My exact words were, ‘Come to the meeting, express your opinion,” he said, so council members could get input, which he said people gave. Not one person with whom he spoke since the March vote told him they wanted to see fluoride removed, he said, so “I’m changing my vote,” he announced to applause.

Mirror Staff Writer Kelly Cernetich is at 946-7520.