A study released by the University of Calgary earlier this month linked the lack of fluoride in Calgary’s water—which is also consumed in Airdrie—to an increase in cavities [Note from FAN: see Calgary Fluoride Study Fatally Flawed; Key Data Omitted].
The study compared 5,000 Grade 2 students in Calgary—which removed fluoride from its water in 2011, saving $750,000 annually—with those in Edmonton, where the water still has the compound.
Last week, some Calgary councillors raised concerns over the results of the study, but local leaders haven’t committed to reopening the debate.
Calgary Coun. Dianne Colley Urqhart—who was instrumental in having fluoride removed from the water in 201—has been questioning her original decision since the study was released.
“[This topic] is not going away,” said Colley-Urquhart. “Something will be coming back to council, what that is, I don’t know at this point.”
But Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi disagreed, telling reporters on Feb. 26 that he doesn’t see the issue coming back to council.
However, he said he welcomes a plebiscite.
Airdrians are weighing in on the issue, although Airdrie leaders have no jurisdiction on whether or not Calgary adds fluoride back into the water.
Glen Archer, Airdrie’s team leader of water services, said the City will support Calgary, whether they make changes or keep the status quo when it comes to fluoride.
“Our position is with [the City of Calgary] whether they add fluoride or not,” said Archer.
“The water still meets Alberta drinking water regulations.”
Mayor Peter Brown said he has mixed feelings on the issue, but said he doubts Airdrie council will be consulted on the issue.
“At the end of the day, there’s two sides to this debate,” said Brown, adding there are arguments both for and against ingesting fluoride.
He said the City hasn’t received any calls from residents regarding this issue.
The study has also sparked public debate.
Airdrie resident Sarah Stilborn said fluoride should be added back to the water.
“I’m totally for it,” she said.
She explained one of her daughters, who is now six, developed major tooth problems at an early age.
She said her dentist told her it was a result of lack of fluoride, because young children’s toothpaste does not include the compound and there was none in the water.
“For that age I think [having fluoride] is huge,” said Stilborn.
Some residents, however, would be upset if Calgary began adding fluoride again.
Angie Pool said when she heard the City of Calgary was questioning the issue, she was unhappy.
“I don’t think fluoride should be ingested,” she said, adding she feels it has adverse effects on the body that she has experienced first hand.
“If you want extra fluoride you can [buy it].”
Dr. Richard Musto, Alberta Health Services’ lead medical officer for the Calgary Zone, told reporters that Calgary council should reconsider its “fundamentally” ideological decision to remove fluoride from the City’s drinking water five years ago.
According to the City of Calgary, the jurisdiction added fluoride to its water in 1991 after a majority of residents voted in favour of it during a 1989 plebiscite.