Health staff involved in a review of local water fluoridation is neither supportive nor opposed to the long-standing practice, according to Peel’s top medical official.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa has assured members of the Community Water Fluoridation Committee that regional health staff are objective participants in the ongoing process that is intended to culminate with a recommendation to council on whether the Region should continue adding fluoride to its drinking water.
“We’re neither pro or anti-fluoride. We’re actually pro-health,” de Villa said during the committee’s last meeting in response to a question about the types of studies that would be brought forward as part of this review.
She also rejected any suggestion health department staff would “cherry-pick” studies that support water fluoridation.
She conceded there are plenty of useful studies available to help inform the committee in its decision-making.
But according to de Villa, finding “gold standard” randomized controlled studies that support either side of this controversial issue is impossible.
She emphasized it is important that the committee look at past studies, current data and circumstances as well as local data in forming a recommendation.
Last January, regional council tasked the committee with carrying out a broad review on whether to continue water fluoridation.
This the second time the Region has dived into the highly controversial issue that has generated a loud and persistent anti-fluoride lobby.
In April 2011, the debate on local water fluoridation was closed when council unanimously voted to continue the practice Peel has been conducting for more than 40 years.
Council heard from a number of health officials, including Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, before concluding water fluoridation is a valuable public health tool in fighting poor oral health and other ailments that can stem from oral illnesses.
However, some Peel residents, including some on council, believe the fluoride in the local drinking water may actually be a harmful chemical.
There is widespread distrust amongst the anti-fluoride lobby of government health officials, who are seen as part of an establishment deaf to warnings about the dangers of fluoride consumption and intent on continuing the water treatment practice.