London’s mayor is calling for development of a backup plan in case the city is unable to obtain supplies within a couple of months to begin fluoridating the water supply again.
“Let’s ensure that we are thinking of Plan B before we get to the real need for it,” Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best said yesterday.
London has been caught by a North American-wide supply crunch for Hydrofluorosilicic Acid (HFS), which is added to raw water to reduce tooth decay.
The supply of HFS ran out on Sept. 3 at London’s Arva pumping station, the facility that processes about 85 per cent of London’s drinking water.
There is about an eight- to 10-week supply remaining at the Elgin Area Water Treatment Facility which provides the rest of London’s water.
The Middlesex-London Health Unit’s dental director has said a short-term interruption of two to three months should not have a significant effect on dental health.
DeCicco-Best said she couldn’t speculate on what could be done if London can’t obtain fluoride for its water.
“I am not an engineer and I am not a health unit person.”
The silver lining for the city is that many other cities across North America face the same situation, she said.
“We are all in this together,” she said, adding there was nothing London could have done to prevent the problem.
A report prepared for London’s environment and transportation committee meeting tomorrow says manufacturers are investing in new production equipment to supply HFS, “but it is expected to take one to three years before new production capacity results in a sustainable supply.”
The report by John Braam, division manager of London’s water and sewer operations, traces the current situation to a drop in demand for fluoride products in the 1980s that resulted in manufacturers reducing investment in new production capacity.
But in the last five years, new uses for HFS emerged in computer chip and solar panel producing, resulting in shortages. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 made the situation worse when it damaged several of the major manufacturing facilities.