Epcor has reduced its fluoride levels by 13 per cent following a recommendation from a Health Canada expert panel.
The panel, consisting of academics and members of public health agencies, reaffirmed the federal government’s existing maximum allowable level of 1.5 parts per million, but said the optimum is 0.7 ppm. Epcor previously capped fluoride at 0.8 ppm.
Fluoride in drinking water protects against cavities, but some believe it may have detrimental health effects, among them cancer, an abnormal increase in bone density and a lowering of IQ.
The expert panel rejected those concerns as long as the fluoride remains at or below recommended levels. It specifically addressed a 2006 study by a Harvard scientist who found a link between fluoride in drinking water and a rare bone cancer in males under 20. The findings were a preliminary analysis of a longer study, and the panel recommended no conclusions be drawn until the study was completed.
The panel’s report is dated January 2007, but was not published by Health Canada until April 2008.
Late last fall, Epcor was asked by Alberta Health Services to implement the change.
Epcor says it relies on Health Canada to set maximum and optimum levels for fluoride, but it needs regulatory approval from Alberta Environment to make any changes.
The change to the concentration in Edmonton’s drinking water was made last Thursday, said Les Gammie, director of Epcor’s water services quality assurance. Water from the river naturally contains about 0.1 ppm of fluoride. More fluoride was added to Edmonton tap water in 1966 after a plebiscite was passed to have it added for dental health protection, Gammie said.
Health Canada could not answer any questions Monday on fluoridation rates. Prior to this latest concentration change, Epcor had kept fluoride at 0.8 ppm since March 1998. From 1966 to 1998 the concentration was one ppm.
Epcor says its fluoride concentration is reported daily to Alberta Environment.
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