Local water is safe to drink, but the county has issued a reminder that certain segments of the population may want to think twice about pouring themselves a glass of H2O from the tap.
Fluoride levels in four Oxford County communities were documented to be above the province’s Maximum Acceptable Concentration (MAC) of 1.5 mg/L, but still within the acceptable range to drink.
Brownsville, Ingersoll, Lakeside, and Springfield all had values above the 1.5 mg/L threshold.
Similarly, the following communities had sodium levels above the recommended range of 20 mg/L: Bright, Brownsville, Ingersoll, Mt. Elgin, Otterville-Springford, Thamesford, and parts of Tilsonburg and Woodstock.
“Fluoride is naturally occurring in the water supply and it’s impacted by the geology of the bedrock and the limestone, clay, and sand,” said Peter Heywood, program supervisor of health protection for Oxford County’s public health and emergency services department. “Sodium levels can be affected by road salt that’s applied by people in their own driveways or trucks that are salting county roads.”
The main concern with fluoride levels above 1.5 mg/L pertains to the threat of fluorosis in children less than six years of age.
“With higher levels of fluoride children can have a cosmetic change to their teeth known as fluorosis (which can cause white flecks or brown areas on teeth) and we want to ensure if children are using toothpaste that contains fluoride, they are supervised so they aren’t receiving additional exposure to fluoride,” Heywood said.
“We’re not telling (parents to have their kids) stop drinking water, we’re just telling them to reduce their (childrens’) exposure to other sources of fluoride.”
Within the range to 1.5mg/L to 2.4 mg/L of fluoride, Heywood explained that it’s more about generating awareness to limit fluoride exposure. Above 2.4 mg/L, then the county would have to consider treatment options to the municipal drinking water.
In terms of the higher levels of sodium in the water supply, those on sodium-restricted diets or suffering from kidney disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, or liver disease may want increased vigilance in monitoring their water consumption.
A press release from Oxford County public health said “drinking up to two litres of water per day at the levels found in some parts of Oxford County could add 47.2 to 175.6 milligrams of sodium to a person’s diet.”
Water softeners can further add sodium to your drinking water.
“If people don’t have a third line that provides untreated drinking water, the sodium intake can increase,” Heywood said. “In my home, I have a third line for drinking water that’s not attached to my water softener.”
Testing of fluoride and sodium levels was conducted throughout Oxford County from 2008-2011 and the Ministry of the Environment has mandated that levels are re-tested every five years.
Heywood said that the county received feedback from residents requesting that testing results be divulged on a yearly basis as reminders. For more information visit www.oxfordcounty.ca