Hamilton’s Board of Health is asking the federal government to classify fluoride as a drug so it can be properly regulated and studied.
“It’s a difficult issue for us,” said Ward 1 councillor Brian McHattie, who introduced the motion at the board’s May 7 meeting. “There is a need for more information. We need the federal government to take the lead on it.”
The motion, which is similar to one Peel Region approved in January 2012, requests Health Canada classify fluorosilicates as a drug under the Food and Drug Act, or as an additive or supplement through the Bureau of Chemicals.
The idea, say councillors, is that fluoride would then be subjected to a long-term toxicology study to determine its health effects. Councillors also asked the provincial environment ministry to provide assurances the fluoride being poured into the city’s waste supply is safe.
But Stoney Creek councillor Brad Clark suggested the board go one step further and establish a moratorium on pouring fluoride into the city’s drinking water, while the federal government considers the city’s request. He said the city’s $223,000 contract for fluoridating the water ends September 2012.
“The only reason fluoride is in the system is because it has always been done,” he said.
Last fall Moncton, New Brunswick agreed to a five-year moratorium on fluoridating its water supply.
Mountain councillor Tom Jackson said he has always kept an “open mind” on the fluoride issue, even after some of the information has “scared me.”
But he agreed with his colleagues Health Canada needs to establish some core protocols for fluoride.
“I want Health Canada to clarify the issues,” he said.
Politicians are scheduled to vote on the Board of Health’s recommendation at their May 9 council meeting.
McHattie’s motion comes on the heels of a contentious debate last month at city hall over whether the city should continue to put fluoride into its water supply. Opponents of fluoride argue it is a chemical that is putting residents’ health at risk, while proponents of fluoride say it has prevented tooth decay in children. About 90 health organizations around the world support fluoride, including the World Health Organization, Health Canada, and the Canadian and American dental associations.
Cindy Mayor, of the organization Canadians Opposed to Fluoridation, backed McHattie’s motion, saying other politicians have also asked Health Canada for answers about fluoridation’s effects on the population.
“Now it’s your turn to act diligently and consider that everything is not as it seems,” she said.
Opponents of fluoride have made a concerted effort over the last five years to convince municipalities to end fluoridation. After a heated debate in 2008, Hamilton politicians narrowly voted to continue fluoridating its water supply. Halton Region in 2012 voted to keep fluoride, as did Peel Region and Toronto. But other jurisdictions eliminated fluoride, including Amherstburg in 2012, Waterloo in 2010 and Calgary in 2011.