The city’s board of health is split over keeping fluoride in the drinking water supply.
Councillors peppered presenters with questions at yesterday’s board meeting as they struggled to reconcile advice from public health supporting fluoridation and delegations calling it unsafe. Both sides claim the other is selecting studies that support their own position.
After the debate consumed most of the day, a tie vote of six for and six against continuing fluoridation forced the board to refer the issue to the next council meeting.
Board members were voting on a staff recommendation to continue fluoridating the water supply but at a slightly lower level, bumping it down from 0.7 milligrams per litre to 0.6 milligrams per litre. Councillors Lloyd Ferguson, David Mitchell, Bernie Morelli and Russ Powers were absent for the vote.
Prefacing his support of the recommendation, Mayor Fred Eisenberger said he felt the positives outweigh any possible negatives.
“I understand that there is concern for some and that there may be incidents of effect but I’ll balance the benefits are far greater and I think those are the kinds of choices we make every day,” he said. He said taking medication is an example because it, too, contains potentially harmful ingredients in excessive amounts.
Dr. Chris Mackie, associate medical officer, presented the health department’s report, which looked at alternative ways of delivering what he said were protective dental benefits of fluoride other than through drinking water.
The study found the alternatives, such as a mail-out program of toothbrushes and toothpaste, more expensive than water fluoridation.