Drama and action raged on both sides during a public information session on fluoridation.
Voicing rapid-fire questions of deep concerns for experts to answer, nearly 60 people attended the water fluoridation public information session at the Whitecourt Seniors Circle Sept. 21.
Parents, town councillors, health workers, dentists and doctors were in attendance to hear the speakers.
Water fluoridation, a practice in which governments have been adding fluoride to local drinking water supplies since the 1950s to reduce cavities and painful extractions, is under question by critics.
The concern of toxicity comes though the United Nations has studied and promoted the improvement in dental health from fluoridation in regions where dentists are not often available.
Representing both sides of the subject in 30-minute information speeches were Dr. James Beck, a retired University of Calgary professor of medical biophysics and Dr. Kathryn Koliaska, Northern Alberta Health Officer.
The duo engaged in a microphone battle show-down during question period.
Beck was blunt in his skepticism of Health Canada’s ability to provide enough conclusive evidence to assure people that fluoride is safe.
Detailing a gamut of effects — from failure for brain development, damage to kidneys and increased bone fractures — Beck painted a grim picture with his opinion on public safety.
Although, Beck did say his some of his conclusions on flouridation studies are not peer-reviewed and un-confirmed by researchers.
Countering the skeptism, Koliaska pointed to the stringent levels of safety monitoring which Health Canada requires of those who are responsible for drinking water.
Per litre of water, there are hundred thousandth of traces of naturally occurring minerals and ‘chemicals’ including fluoride which we consume daily, even from natural springs and wells as pointed out by Dr. Koliaska.
After the speakers presented their points of view on fluoridation, a question period went on for the next hour.
Whitecourt residents brought up concerns about the health of unborn babies during pregnancy, diabetics and those who have kidney diseases.
Though the presenters both tried to assure attendees their case was right, the volleys lead to a tie at match-point.
The presenters agreed to disagree to whether fluoridation should be continued or halted.
Both experts agreed though that public information and open discussion is the only way for a community to decide on the issue.
The public information session was hosted by the Town of Whitecourt to give residents the opportunity to learn more about fluoridiation — a practice used by the town in the community’s drinking water.