The following letters are in response to a Feb 8, 2018, letter from Dana Landry, Halifax Safe Water coalition
Our Water’s safe
We are writing in response to “Is our water safe?”—the letter from Dana Landry questioning the safety of fluoridation of municipal drinking water (Reply All, Feb 8).The fluoridation of drinking water supplies is a well-accepted measure to protect public health, and is strongly supported by scientific evidence.
Fluoride addition began in Halifax in the 1950s at the encouragement of the Public Health Officer for the benefit of preventing and reducing tooth decay or cavities. It continues to be endorsed by over 90 national and international professional health organizations including the Nova Scotia Environment Department of Health and Wellness, Health Canada, the Canadian and American Dental Associations, the Canadian Medical Association, the Centers for Disease Control, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the World Health Organization and the Food and Drug Administration of the United States.
Health Canada, through the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality, is the scientific authority on what constitutes safe drinking water. On behalf of Health Canada, the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee on Drinking Water develops safe limits of exposure for a wide variety of parameters using a non-biased approach that considers the full scientific evidence of health effects of a particular parameter. The GCDWQ states that “the weight of evidence from all currently available studies does not support a link between exposure to fluoride in drinking water at 1.5 mg/L (the maximum allowable concentration in drinking water) and any adverse health effects, including those related to cancer, immunotoxicity, reproductive/developmental toxicity, genotoxicity and/or neurotoxicity. It also does not support a link between fluoride exposure and intelligence quotient deficit, as there are significant concerns regarding the relevant studies, including quality, credibility, and methodological weaknesses.”
Nova Scotia Environment Department of Health and Wellness issued a position statement on drinking water fluoridation based on the findings of an expert panel convened by Health Canada in 2007 on the same topic. Both documents reaffirmed fluoridation as an effective method for the prevention dental decay and that fluoridation at optimal levels does not cause adverse health effects. In addition, on February 12, 2014 the IWK Health Centre, Faculty of Dentistry at Dalhousie University and the Nova Scotia Dental Association presented a letter to Halifax Water supporting and encouraging the continued fluoridation of drinking water in HRM as an effective means to improve oral health.
—Carl D. Yates, general manager, Halifax Water
I read “Is our water safe?” with great interest. With important public health policy measures such as water fluoridation, it is imperative that fear-based opinions do not trump evidence-based decision making. Access to fluoridated drinking water is a proven strategy in the prevention of dental decay. Preventing decay before it occurs is vital to good overall health and far less costly than treating the after-effects of decay, especially in children.
Early childhood caries, or ECC, is the most common chronic infectious disease in infants and toddlers. Recent studies show there are high levels of this disease in Nova Scotia, particularly in non-fluoridated communities. It causes children a great deal of suffering and infection. Fortunately, it is largely preventable thanks to community water fluoridation.
For adverse health effects like skeletal or dental fluorosis to occur, an individual would have to swallow an amount 10 times greater than the Canadian optimal concentration for 10 or more years.
Community water fluoridation is a valuable public health measure. The decision-makers in municipalities have a responsibility to protect all members of the community and we encourage people across the province considering water fluoridation to engage in evidence-based research and consultation before making a final decision.
—Dr. Erin Hennessy, president, Nova Scotia Dental Association