Local News – Niagara’s plan to eliminate fluoride from regional drinking water ran into citizen opposition Wednesday.
Historically, most Niagara municipalities haven’t added fluoride to their water treatment systems.
Parts of Thorold, Welland and Pelham, however, have treated their water with fluoride as recently as 2002, when repeated mechanical failures temporarily halted the practice.
Regional staff have pitched a plan to stop using fluoride permanently, arguing the corrosive additive causes costly, continuous maintenance problems and leaks.
But some residents want the region to restart and revamp the fluoridation program instead.
“You’re looking at costs, but you’re not considering the cost to residents’ health,” said Pelham resident Katie Brock at a regional public works meeting.
“I’m really surprised the region is thinking about passing a bylaw to formalize a situation that never should have been allowed to happen in the first place.”
The regional report said public health officials believe fluoridation helps reduce tooth decay.
At the same time, it noted fluoride is increasingly available in a wide range of products, such as toothpaste, mouthwash, infant formula and food products.
The report listed a litany of mechanical problems associated with adding hydrofluosilicic acid, the source of fluoride, to water treatment systems.
As an example, the fluoridation system at the Welland water treatment plant was out of service 60 per cent of the time because of leaks and mechanical breakdowns between 1994 and 1999.
The report also noted the region can’t introduce fluoride into shared treatment systems, since communities like St. Catharines have voted against the use of fluoride in the past.
Brock scolded the region for failing to inform the public about the years-long gap in fluoridation in her community.
Brock said her dental hygienist was still under the impression up until last year that Pelham drinking water contained fluoride.
“I think it’s a real health issue for children and senior citizens, especially,” she said.
Brock asked for a more comprehensive report from public health officials before councillors voted on the public works recommendation.
Committee members agreed to send the report back to the public health committee and staff for more information.
ID- 531873 ©