Councillors examining health safety
Peel is asking the provincial government to conduct toxicity tests on the additive used to fluoridate the region’s drinking water.
Regional council wants the Ontario government to provide clear evidence the additive is safe for human consumption.
After months of hearing scientific studies that have concluded water fluoridation has proven oral health benefits and contradictory arguments that the practice poses serious health risks, Peel councillors decided to drop the local controversy in the Ontario government’s lap.
For a year now, councillors on Peel Region’s Community Water Fluoridation Committee have been re-examining the benefits and potential health risks associated with adding fluoride to the municipal drinking water system.
The committee was established to form a recommendation for the regional position on continued use of water fluoridation in Peel.
However, it appears council members are no closer to forming that position than they were a year ago.
Committee Chair Carolyn Parrish admitted councillors have been “struggling” with the contradictory information presented on the benefits and dangers of fluoridation.
“It’s not been an easy committee,” she confessed at recent council meeting, where council agreed to request the province take responsibility for testing and/or regulating the drinking water additive.
Peel is currently using hydrofluorosilicic acid (HFSA) produced from Phosphorite Rock.
Critics of the water treatment have warned HFSA is a highly toxic form of fluoride, produced as a waste byproduct of the phosphate fertilizer manufacturing process.
Regional health and water system officials have assured politicians the water based liquid additive used in Peel is NSF 60 (National Sanitation Foundation) certified, as required under the Safe Drinking Water Act, meets purity standards and complies with all Ministry of Environment and Climate Change regulations.
A motion, presented by Brampton Coun. Michael Palleschi, asks Ontario to carry out comprehensive toxicity tests and/or assume legislative responsibility for regulating and administering HFSA in drinking water across the province.
Brampton Coun. Martin Medeiros was the only council member present at the meeting to vote against the motion.
Medeiros, who described the move as passing the buck, said he is comfortable with the advice received from regional staff on the issue and ready to make a decision on the future of fluoridation in Peel.
“I was elected to make these types of decisions,” he said in an interview.
Staff has consistently said HFSA meets health standards and there is scientific evidence to support the benefits of water fluoridation.
“The vast majority of the scientific community does support (water fluoridation),” Peel Medical Officer of Health Eileen de Villa told councillors.
She insisted opposition is coming from a small minority of the scientific community.
“It’s not that there’s two equally sized factions,” she remarked.
A loud antifluoridation lobby has countered any information presented in support of the practice.
Brampton Coun. John Sprovieri, a vocal opponent of water fluoridation, said council members are not shirking their responsibility and will make a decision after the province responds to these requests.
Peel had this same debate more than five years ago and decided to continue fluoridation.