QUEBEC CITY – What is more refreshing on a hot sunny day than a glass of water? It’s satisfying and vital to our health. So when it comes to adding chemicals to drinking water, it’s no wonder many parents cringe.
“It’s always, you know, when you add chemical stuff to the water you drink, you always want to know for sure if it’s fine for you,” said concerned parent Marie-Hélène Boudreau.
“I know that for kids under two, they advise for even the toothpaste not having fluoride.”
However, she said she trusts health authorities in Quebec will eventually make the right decision about fluoride and dental health.
Teeth are exactly what public health authorities in Quebec are concerned about.
Only 54 per cent of Quebecers under the age of nine go to the dentist, despite having full coverage and fluoridation is considered a cheap and effective way to reduce tooth decay, especially in children.
“It’s a problem.”
Quebec’s public health authority is recommending that the province increase its fluoridation penetration rate from 3 per cent to 50 per cent.
This means that more cities, including Montreal, would have to agree to treat their water with fluoride. Currently, only eight cities across Quebec use fluoride: Dorval, Pointe-Claire, Richmond, Montmagny, Levis, Saint-Georges, Châteauguay and La Prairie.
“The parliamentary commission (in April) recommended that we act and intervene on social acceptability,” said Health Minister Réjean Hébert. ”It’s a problem.”
Some hesitation around fluoride is over concerns that too much of it can cause teeth to change colour.
Lobby groups such as “Eau Secours” have argued it poses health and environmental risks.
In fact, there’s a lack of consensus around the world, with many countries choosing to do different things.
“In my country, France, fluoride is only added to salt,” said concerned parent and French citizen Claude Montaud.
Quebec’s Health Minister is considering launching a wide-spread awareness campaign, but isn’t sure. The Parti Quebecois once promised to ban fluoride.
“We should examine that the money we’re going to put in promoting fluoridation is worth it, compared with the other priorities in public health,” added Hébert.
“That’s the decision we’re going to have to make in the next months.”
Grandmother Lise Meloche, at the park with her two grandchildren, had this message for the minister: ”Listen to the public health and do it, just add a little bit of fluoride, it’s not a big percentage in the water.”
For now, Quebecers remain divided.
© Shaw Media, 2013