Following council direction last March to lower the amount of fluoride added to Peel’s drinking water, regional officials confirmed concentrations were dropped 0.05 mg/L in mid-June.
Peel Region councillors unanimously voted to continue municipal water fluoridation three months ago, but agreed to lower the concentration in the wake of concerns and questions raised during the Community Water Fluoridation Committee’s review of the long-standing practice.
They endorsed a committee motion to reaffirm the region’s commitment to oral health and reduce the concentration of fluoride in Peel’s lake-based water supply by “adjusting it to the lowest level in accordance with provincial standards for the prevention of tooth decay.”
Last March, Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh said the region was working to implement council’s direction by continuing to provide fluoride in the local drinking water supply at levels that balance the desired reduction, while maintaining optimal oral health benefits.
“The provincial standard provided by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change recommends a range of 0.5 mg/L to 0.8 mg/L,” Loh noted in an email. “This range is provided to account for fluctuations in municipal water systems.”
In an email in late June, Loh confirmed the fluoride concentration added to local drinking water was lowered by 0.05 mg/L June 13.
“To reduce the concentration of fluoride in Peel’s lake-based municipal water supply, adjusting it to the lowest level in accordance with provincial standards for the prevention of tooth decay, the target level was reduced from 0.7 mg/L to 0.65 mg/L,” he said.
Loh and regional staff explained slight fluctuations in fluoride levels can occur, due to changes in water flow and mechanical failures, and this concentration was chosen to ensure levels consistently remain within the regulated range for optimal tooth decay prevention.
This level allows the region to stay between 0.6 mg/L and 0.8 mg/L as per the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s Protocol for the Monitoring of Community Water Fluoride Levels, a subsection of the Ontario Public Health Standards, according to Loh.
Operationally, he added, a range of 0.5 mg/L to 0.8 mg/L is allowable under the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change’s Technical Support Document for Ontario Drinking Water Standards, Objectives and Guidelines
“The move to .65 mg/L allows us to meet both standards,” Loh said.
Fluoride at any level is too high for some in the community who consider the additive toxic and lobbied the committee to end water fluoridation in Peel.
Local anti-fluoride activist Christine Massey has argued there are no provincial standards for adding fluoride to municipal drinking water and regional health officials are misleading the public and politicians suggesting otherwise.
In an email exchange she had with an environment ministry official, and shared with the newspaper, Massey was told there is no legal provincial standard to add fluoride to the drinking water within the 0.5-0.8 mg/L range.
When media contacted the same official, he was much less definitive on the issue of standards.
“Municipalities are responsible for determining whether to fluoridate their drinking water supply,” said Satish Deshpande with the environment ministry’s standards branch. “If a municipality moves forward with water fluoridation, they are provided with a range that they are advised to adhere to.”
The municipality is expected to follow the health ministry’s protocol, he added.