A brewing anti-fluoridation movement in Quinte West has health authorities ready to launch their own myth-busting campaign.
The contentious subject of water fluoridation has been at the heart of debates at Quinte West council recently with some calling for the dismantling of the process in areas like Bayside and Batawa. The rest of Quinte West does not use fluoride.
Concerns about the upsurge of the anti-fluoridation movement spilling over into communities like Belleville and Picton, where fluoride has been used for years, were raised this week at the Hastings and Prince Edward Counties Health Unit board meeting.
“I don’t look forward to reopening this issue,” said Dr. Richard Schabas, Hastings and Prince Edward medical officer of health. “I’m not trying to fuel this fight. It’s a fight we will fight if we have to. I hope we don’t have to.”
A recent “rejuvenation of the anti-fluoridation” group was tagged a “troubling issue” by Schabas. Victory by such a campaign would harm the regions most needy children, who have little or no access to proper dental care, he said.
“Fluoridation of municipal drinking water supply is a substantial net health benefit for the population and particularly for poor and underprivileged children,” he said.
He described the Quinte West debate and those brewing elsewhere in Ontario as “boiling down to a debate between science and superstition.”
“The anti-fluoridationist are a group that just won’t go away,” he said. “Unfortunately some municipalities (in Ontario) have listened to these people and have removed water fluoridation.”
Health board member and Quinte West Coun. Ron Hamilton said the ultimate decision will be left up to the people on a referendum.
Citizens had asked for fluoride to be added when the Bayside water treatment plant was built, he said.
“For the most part it has been money well spent,” he said. “When the plant went up there were a lot of young children with teeth decay.”
He linked brewing public angst to costs of maintaining the system (he was unable to provide exact figures). Similar debates have flared up in Picton in the past and they opted to stay with fluoride, he said.
“It’s something that has been discussed at our council and I suspect it will rear its head again,” he said. “It’s something I hope they will consider wisely before they move on it.”