Trace amounts of lead and arsenic have been detected in Peel’s drinking water, raising concerns for those opposed to fluoride.
Acting Director of Peel’s Water Division Jeff Hennings told members of a committee reviewing fluoride that the type of fluoride currently used in treating the region’s drinking water meets regulatory standards and is managed in the same fashion as the chlorine added to water.
Hennings told the Community Water Fluoridation Committee Thursday morning that the fluoride is approved and regulated by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC).
The fervent anti-fluoride lobby that is watching committee proceedings with a critical eye and have questioned the objectivity to regional staff on this issue, raised questions about the type of fluoride being pumped into the region’s drinking water system.
Peel is currently using hydrofluorosilicic acid (HFSA) produced from Phosphorite Rock.
Critics of the longstanding practice of water fluoridation have warned HFSA is a highly toxic form of fluoride, produced as a waste by-product of the phosphate fertilizer manufacturing process.
According to Hennings, this HFSA is the most common fluoride additive in North America.
Backed by Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa, Hennings added that levels of lead and arsenic in treated drinking water “would be below the detection limit.”
Brampton Coun. John Sprovieri, who is among those opposed to the use of fluoride, challenged assertions that low chemical detection levels are an assurance the levels consumed by residents pose no health risks.
“It’s clear that they don’t test for safety of the product, but only the amount,” pointed out Sprovieri, who added Health Canada lists fluoride as a dangerous substance.
Discussion also revealed that even without fluoride in the system, there would still be trace amounts of heavy metals in the Region’s drinking water.
Distilled water would be the only option that is 100 per cent pure, Hennings suggested.
He added, producing distilled water would cost a “fortune.”
Currently, the HFSA being used costs the Region $321,000 a year and $130,000 in operating and maintenance costs.
HFSA produced from Calcium Fluoride would cost about $43,000 more a year to purchase.
Figures provided by Hennings indicated using Sodium Fluorosilicate or Sodium Fluoride would cost just $200,000 a year, but require $250,000 a year in operating and maintenance costs and another $2 million in retrofits to water treatment facilities.
As for the possibility of using pharmaceutical grade fluoride, Hennings noted that it is not subject to NSF 60 (National Sanitation Foundation) certification or approved for use by the government.
Article updated June 10 at 1:13 p.m. to reflect Coun. Sprovieri believes measuring chemical levels is not the same as measuring safety.