Both sides of the water fluoridation debate are calling in their big guns for the first public debate, which is being held this Thursday in advance of this October’s referendum.
Dr. Ira Kershin, the past-president of the Ontario Dental Association and president–elect Dr. Harry Hoediono, a Waterloo resident, will represent the pro-fluoridation side in the 90 minute debate scheduled to start at 7 p. m. at the Hauser Haus at the Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex.
Speaking against the practice of water fluoridation are international expert Paul Connett, a retired chemistry professor from New York’s St. Lawrence University and director of the Fluoride Action Network in the U. S., and Peter Van Caulart, the director of the Environmental Training Institute, who trains water operators in the province.
Rogers TV’s Mike Farwell, also of NewsTalk 570, will moderate the debate and it will be broadcast live at 7 p. m. and repeated at 9 p. m. on Rogers Cable 20. The plan is that this will be one of three public debates on fluoride carried by the local broadcaster.
The discussion will centre on a practice water fluoridation that has been going on in Waterloo since 1967, and survived two public referendums in the early 1980s.
The latest question going to the ballot, recently approved by Waterloo Region council, is: “Should the Region of Waterloo fluoridate your municipal water? Yes or No.”
Connett has spent the last 14 years flying the globe in the fight against water fluoridation. He argues that there is little evidence of its safety particularly in the use of hydrofluorosilicic acid to fluoridate drinking water.
He was initially skeptical of anti-fluoridationists claims, but after a more careful review discovered that the modern research wasn’t there to support the practice. Even more troubling was the potential serious side effects of using hydrofluorosilicic acid.
“I was shocked and ashamed that I had been in that situation, making judgments without really being informed,” said Connett, who has a degree from Cambridge University, and a PhD from Cornell University [sic, should be Dartmouth College].
“I haven’t stopped reading the literature for the past 14 years and I think this practice is one of the silliest darn things that we’ve ever done.”
The practice continues to be endorsed by the U. S. Public Health Service and the U. S. Centers for Disease Control despite increasing evidence that it is not effective in preventing cavities, Connett said. Even worse it is potential harmful to human health, with not enough in-depth research being done on its impact on the human body, he added.
Connett is one of the authors of a new book called The Case Against Fluoride: How Hazardous Waste Ended Up in Our Drinking Water and the Bad Science and Powerful Politics That Keep it There.
“It’s an outrageous medical practice,” said Connett. “I can’t think of any other situation where a doctor would countenance giving a drug to people where you’ve got no control over the dose they get, you’ve got no individual supervision and you’re willing to override their opposition.
“It’s a clear violation of informed consent.”
The Ontario Dental Association’s Dr. Hoediono, who has a Kitchener dental practice, disputes those claims. He has seen the difference in drinking fluoridated water in his own children when he first moved to the city and called it a benefit to live in an intelligent community like Waterloo.
His sons had fewer cavities drinking fluoridated water than his daughter who spent her formative years in Kitchener.
Water fluoridation is also endorsed by Health Canada and multiple other health organizations, Hoediono said.
“In reviewing the literature and looking at the scientific study from an expert point of view, I concur with them and support them,” said Hoediono, who has practiced dentistry in the community for more than 20 years.
He said he decided to get involved in the debate to clear up some of the misconceptions he’s heard about water fluoridation, and address concerns over the substance used to fluoridate Waterloo’s water supply.
“For many years fluoride has done such a good job of preventing dental decay at optimal levels, and not causing any adverse health effects, that people have forgotten the value that it has,” said Hoediono. “I think it’s important to remind them of the value that it has.”