Members of Peel Region’s Community Water Fluoridation Committee heard in no uncertain terms that the longstanding water treatment practice is a serious threat to general good health.
New Delhi researcher and professor Dr. A.K. Susheela spoke to the committee for about 30 minutes during a meeting Thursday.
The committee is re-examining the use of fluoride in the region’s drinking water and whether the practice holds real oral health benefits or poses a potential health risk.
As widely accepted as water fluoridation has been, there is a loud and passionate anti-fluoride lobby that has helped reignite serious debate at the highest levels of Peel Region government.
Findings by the committee will formulate a recommendation to regional council on the continued use of water fluoridation and a stated regional position on the presently accepted practice.
Susheela, executive director at India’s Fluorosis Research and Rural Development Foundation, was in town after speaking at an event organized by the opposition group Concerned Residents of Peel to End Fluoridation.
The organization’s chair, Mississauga resident Liesa Cianchino, convinced the committee to hear a presentation from Susheela, who is considered an informed anti-fluoride expert with global recognition.
Her fervent opposition to water fluoridation is in sharp contrast to positions held by Health Canada, Ontario Ministry of Health and other health bodies, organizations, scientists and medical officials all over the world.
But her stance has ample support amongst the growing anti-fluoride lobby worldwide, including many parts of Canada.
Canada, Australia and Britain are among the last few corners of the globe still clinging to the idea water fluoridation has benefits, Susheela told members of the committee.
Armed with decades of scientific research, she appeared at the committee as an authority on the harmful health effects of fluoride.
“Fluoride is a deadly poison,” said Susheela, who also insisted squeezing toothpaste along the full length of your toothbrush bristles is too much.
The idea that fluoride is vital to preventing tooth decay is an outdated notion and contradicted by up-to-date scientific research, she suggested.
Fluoride is an abundant mineral naturally present in the environment.
Susheela, who also has spoken to the British parliament on the issue, said high levels of the mineral could cause tooth decay or debilitating ailments such as skeletal fluorosis.
Tooth decay is not a fluoride deficiency disorder, she argued, but a result of bad oral hygiene.
She explained ingesting fluoridated water, in addition to numerous other sources of exposure, essentially creates toxic levels in the human body.
“What matters most is what is circulating in your body,” according to Susheela.
Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standards identify the maximum acceptable concentration of fluoride in drinking water as 1.5 mg per litre.
The optimal concentration of fluoride in drinking water to promote dental health is 0.7 mg per litre, according to Health Canada. This is the level Peel Region seeks to maintain.
Susheela insisted less is better when it comes to the water additive.
“Fluoride is a poison. That’s it. No fluoride is good,” she concluded.
The committee is hearing submissions on an invitation basis only and Mississauga Coun. Jim Tovey suggested hearing from an expert on the other side of the debate.
A number of presenters on opposite sides of the argument were invited to a closed-door workshop held by the committee last January.