The Ministry of Health and Long-term Care is focusing on fluoridation and is reaching out to municipal councils to rally support for its cause.
A letter from the ministry about water fluoridation was presented to St. Thomas city council as correspondence Monday evening. At a time when some jurisdictions are turning their backs on the water treatment, the notice reminds municipalities about the importance of fluoridation for oral health and encourages local governments to continue the practice.
The topic of abandoning water fluoridation isn’t being considered at St. Thomas city council right now and would require regional discussion if it were to take place in the future.
“The choice to add fluoride is made by the member municipalities of the Elgin Area Primary Water Supply System (EAPWSS),” said Justin Lawrence, director of environmental services and city engineer for St. Thomas.
The system supplies drinking water for St.Thomas, Bayham, Malahide, Aylmer, the Municipality of Central Elgin, Southwold Twp. and part of London.’
“Drinking water is fluoridated at the water treatment plant just east of Port Stanley,” said Lawrence in an email.
“This area has historically followed the advice of the scientific community to add fluoride to the water system.”
But in other parts of the county it’s a different story. The Municipality of West Elgin’s water supply is not fluoridated and has not been since 2003, according to an Elgin St. Thomas Public Health report.
The entirety of West Elgin and parts of Dutton/Dunwich use water pumped from a treatment plant near the village of Eagle which does not add hydrofluosilicic acid, the chemical used for fluoridation. Residents in some parts of Dutton/Dunwich get their water from the facility near Port Stanley where fluoride is added.
The health unit promotes water fluoridation and wants to see the practice spread to communities across the county. The health unit adopted a fluoride position statement in 2010 and reaffirmed its support of the initiative on the 70th anniversary of community water fluoridation in Canada and the United States last year.
“The health unit supports community water fluoridation as a safe, effective and cost-effective measure for improving oral health,” said said Dr. Maria van Harten, public health dentist at the health unit.
Van Harten said the health unit is available to answer questions from the public or elected officials about the science behind fluoridation and analyzes assessments made by the Port Stanley facility.
“The health unit regularly reviews reports from the Elgin Area Primary Water Supply System who itself is continuously monitoring water quality and fluoride levels,” she said in an email.
The local health unit’s position statement on fluoride and the local water treatment practices is available on its website. Van Harten said members of the public who want to learn more about community water fluoridation can contact the health unit or visit the American Academy of Pediatrics website Ilikemyteeth.org.