The issue of whether or not to fluoridate the city’s drinking water is a boiling hot topic right now and has caused a division among the community living committee (CLC) members.
Coun. Chris Thiessen is against fluoridating the city’s drinking water as he views it as “forced medication of the population” and he’s worried about the environmental impact of fluoridation citing it a “moral and ethical” question.
“We shouldn’t be making a decision to medicate the population, especially since (fluoride) is not an essential vitamin or mineral for the human body to survive,” he said.
Thiessen asked the committee to open a plebiscite and Mayor Bill Given motioned the issue go to a council committee of the whole meeting as it was something that should be discussed among all elected officials. Couns. Dwight Logan and Rory Tarant voted against the motion taking administration’s report (which supported fluoridation) as information.
“Fluoridation has benefited the community and especially the kids,” said Logan, claiming European countries use fluoride and it improved the health of their teeth.
In fact, only about 2% of the European population receives fluoridated water: Those in the U.K. (5,797,000), Republic of Ireland (3,250,000), Spain (4,250,000), and Serbia (300,000), according to a 2012 study by the British Fluoridation Society.
Thiessen also raised the question of how artificial fluoridation impacts the environment.
Fluoride naturally occurs at 0.1 parts per million. Aquatera fluoridates its water to 0.7 ppm and as it flows through the city’s water system and back into the environment, the total amount of fluoride left in the water is 0.5 ppm.
No known scientific body has studied the impact of municipal fluoridation on nature, according to the city’s environmental stewardship department.
Since Aquatera’s shareholders are the city, the County of Grande Prairie, and the Town of Sexsmith, should one of the three shareholders decide to remove fluoridation from its water, all would have to agree to the change because the distribution system is connected.
The fluoridation issue was first brought to council in May 2015 by a delegation. In October 2015, the CLC directed administration to request input from a number of academic and government groups on the benefits and detriments of water fluoridation.
Thiessen has a final shot at addressing the fluoridation issue with council at their next meeting on April 4 when the minutes of the CLC are approved.