Peel’s Medical Officer of Health told a committee reviewing the use of fluoride in the region’s drinking water that there is no “quality” or “relevant” research to suggest the longtime practice poses a health risk when Health Canada standards are followed.
Dr. Eileen de Villa spoke to the region’s Community Water Fluoridation Committee Nov. 24 to present staff findings from a review of studies on the effectiveness and safety of community water fluoridation.
De Villa brought two thick binders filled with studies to the meeting — illustrating the vast library of research material produced worldwide on the health effects of fluoride in drinking water.
She noted the volumes of available data vary in quality and relevance to the situation in Peel, where fluoride is added to municipal water under strict government guidelines and at low levels.
De Villa attempted to respond to a number of concerns raised during this process initiated earlier this year to produce a recommendation to council on whether the region should continue water fluoridation.
Concerns about the region’s fluoridated water causing fluorosis are not supported by evidence that show rates of moderate to severe cases are “so low that they cannot even be reported,” she said.
Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh was also on hand to support De Villa’s insistence that the type of fluoride and the amount added to local drinking water is safe for public consumption.
Loh told committee members there is no evidence to indicate a link between adverse health and fluoride added to drinking water at the “optimal” level recommended by Health Canada.
De Villa added that dentists in jurisdictions where fluoride has been removed from the water are beginning to report increased incidents to tooth decay.
This report from the regional health officials came as no surprise from anti-fluoride lobbyists, who have accused De Villa and her staff of bias during this process and dismissing research that has concluded water fluoridation is essentially poisoning the public.
A handful of fluoride opponents were in council chambers to hear the presentation — two were dressed in yellow HAZMAT suits.
“There’s an information war on fluoride,” said Richard Allan, who explained he was wearing the type of suit workers at water treatment plants must wear when dealing with fluoride.
A larger group staged a protest outside the Peel Centre Drive regional headquarters after the meeting.
The demonstration was organized by Mississauga resident Liesa Cianchino, who launched the ongoing court challenge against the region and provincial government two years ago to stop water fluoridation in Peel.
Cianchino claimed the Fluoridation Act and Peel Region are violating charter rights and the region’s artificial water fluoridation program violates the Safe Drinking Water Act and Food and Drugs Act.
In statements of defence filed in February 2015, the region and provincial government deny the dangers of artificial water fluoridation and maintain that fluoride at the safe levels maintained in Ontario has proven health benefits.
Both the province and region are calling for dismissal of the court challenge.
This was article was updated Nov. 24 at 3:38 p.m. to clarify moderate to severe cases of dental fluorosis are so low they cannot be reported.