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Yorktown Votes To Keep Fluoride In Drinking Water

Jennifer Blair and Benjamin Dancygier, dentists at Valley Pediatrics in Jefferson Valley, said fluoride in the drinking water is effective in preventing tooth decay.
Jennifer Blair and Benjamin Dancygier, dentists at Valley Pediatrics in Jefferson Valley, said fluoride in the drinking water is effective in preventing tooth decay. Photo Credit: Brian Marschhauser
Yorktown resident and dentist Carl Tegtmeier spoke in favor of fluoride at Tuesday night's meeting.
Yorktown resident and dentist Carl Tegtmeier spoke in favor of fluoride at Tuesday night's meeting. Photo Credit: Brian Marschhauser
From left: Council member Terrence Murphy, Supervisor Michael Grace, and Council member Vishnu Patel voted in favor of fluoride at Tuesday night's meeting.
From left: Council member Terrence Murphy, Supervisor Michael Grace, and Council member Vishnu Patel voted in favor of fluoride at Tuesday night's meeting. Photo Credit: Brian Marschhauser

YORKTOWN, N.Y. -- Fluoride will remain in Yorktown's drinking water, the town board decided Tuesday night.

After nearly two hours of testimonials from local dentists and residents, the Yorktown Town Board voted 3 to 1 to make the necessary repairs at its facilities and continue the practice of fluoridating its water.

About a dozen dentists, pediatricians and health professionals spoke in favor of fluoride and cited numerous scientific reports of its effectiveness in preventing cavities, tooth decay and other diseases. Among the speakers was Westchester County Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler.

"The Center for Disease Control has declared that fluoridation is one of the 10 most important public health achievements of the 20th century. So that tells you where the Center of Disease Control places their faith in this," Amler said. "We've been drinking fluoridated water in this country for about 65 years. So it has a long track record of safety."

Proponents of fluoride said the decision should be based on facts and science, and were outspoken against anti-fluoride groups they say have not provided enough factual evidence that it is harmful.

"We're talking about science. There is science grounded in scientific method, and there's something else, something we call 'junk science,'" said Yorktown resident and dentist Carl Tegtmeier. "Junk science is opinion that gets quoted from press release and letters to the editor, or half-truths cherry-picked out of context from scientific articles."

Only one member of the public, a resident from Croton-on-Hudson, spoke out against the practice, saying it's difficult to regulate fluoride intake when it is added to the water supply.

The town temporarily discontinued the fluoridation of its water earlier this month for repairs at its Catskill and Amawalk facilities.

Supervisor Michael Grace said the repairs would be significant capital investments - between $150,000 and $250,000 - and the town wanted to hear from its residents before moving forward.

The overwhelming support at Tuesday night's meeting was enough for Grace to vote in favor of the investments.

"At this point, I would make a motion to getting the repairs done," he said. "I’ve heard enough."

Grace and Council members Vishnu Patel and Terrence Murphy voted in favor of the repairs. Council member Dave Paganelli voted against the repairs. Council member Nick Bianco was not present.

Paganelli said he did not base his 'no' vote on the pros and cons of the health benefits of fluoride, but questioned whether it is something that should be forced on residents.