London’s chief health officer makes case for continued fluoridation of the city’s drinking water
[The first part of the article reported on local transit projects]
Mackie makes case for fluoridation
Civic works also had to wade into what is always a thorny issue for municipal governments: fluoridation of the water supply.
The previous council was unable to deal with a referral on the issue, so it was up to London’s medical officer of health Dr. Chris Mackie* to speak in its favour Tuesday.
Mackie said fluoridation of drinking water ranks with seatbelts and vaccinations as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the last century.
He said fluoridation helps prevent tooth decay but its opponents, including a handful who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting, say its use is harmful and its benefit is unproven.
But Mackie said dental outcomes in cities that have stopped putting fluoride in their water are poorer, particularly for children.
For example Mackie pointed to Windsor, which voted to stop fluoridation in 2013, before voting last month to bring it back.
“We saw a 50 per cent increase in cavities a few years after water fluoridation was discontinued,” said Mackie.
“Each time water fluoridation is discontinued, you see an epidemic of children’s cavities coming into a community,” he added.
“I’ve been closely watching water fluoridation for the past decade and you do see that literature is becoming stronger and stronger each year,” he said. “The claims of health risks are not supported by science.”
London began to fluoridate its water in 1967 after a plebiscite on the issue the previous year.
A handful of people spoke against fluoridation. Among them Kathy Millier with the group Safe Water London,
She described fluoride as a “toxic waste product” and said putting it in the city’s water is a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Councillors asked staff why London fluoridates at a rate of 0.7 milligrams per litre, which is the rate set by Health Canada.
In the end, committee voted to have staff report back on reducing fluoridation levels to 0.6 milligrams per litre.
Coun. van Holst compares fluoridation … to Bill Cosby
There were a few strange moments during the discussion about fluoride, two of them from Coun. Michael van Holst.
At one point he began dropping cinnamon heart candies into a jar to illustrate the difference between the amount of fluoride absorbed in the body from drinking water compared to using toothpaste.
Van Holst also spoke about his skepticism about the safety and effectiveness of fluoride, based on studies he’d seen produced in other countries.
Then the Ward 1 councillor said this:
“I have a fear that fluoridation is going to turn out to be the Bill Cosby of water treatment processes because it’s something that we have thought was irreproachable but maybe behind the scenes, it’s actually doing great harm.”
That prompted Squire, who was chairing the meeting, to respond:
“I almost jumped in on that comment about Bill Cosby,” he said to van Holst. “I’m not sure that’s appropriate … but we’ll leave it at that.”
Once one of the most popular figures in entertainment due to his television roles as a loveable father, Cosby was found guilty last year of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman.