Fluoride Action Network

Belleville: Health board wary of water request

Source: Belleville Intelligencer | April 3rd, 2008 | By Barry Ellsworth
Location: Canada, Ontario

A plea to pull fluoride from municipal water sources was met with quiet caution from public health board officials Wednesday.

Picton resident Pablo Wille made his argument to health board members at their monthly meeting, Wednesday.

“We put it in the water hoping it will fix the teeth,” he said. “It doesn’t. It is time to review this practice.”

After his 10-minute presentation, board members made comments and asked Wille questions, while Dr. Bill Ryding, the health unit’s director of oral health, refuted Wille’s statements.

In the end, the board voted to commend Wille for his report and accepted it, but it is unlikely any further action will be taken.

However, Wille said later he was pleased the health unit at least listened to his concerns about fluoride and that it stirred some debate.

The Picton resident made a similar presentation to Prince Edward County’s public works committee about a month ago. Health board chairwoman Lori Slik heard Wille speak at that time and invited him to the health unit.

Treating water with fluoride varies among municipalities. Belleville, Picton and Bayside treat the water, but Trenton, Frankford, Bloomfield and Wellington do not.

Wille said there are enough health questions about fluoride that residents in each community should be asked and decide on whether to use the chemical.

“People haven’t been asked,” he said.

Wille cited studies that showed health risks associated with fluoride include pollution of lake water, that it is toxic and corrosive, and it can cause skeletal fluorosis which makes bones brittle and leads to greater incidents of hip or bone fractures. The American Dental Association has also warned mothers not to use fluoridated water in baby formula because it could have harmful effects.

But Ryding said the ADA issued that warning because the allowable amount of fluoride in water is four times greater in the United States, at four parts per million, than in Canada, where the regulations are set at 1.5 parts per million.

Wille countered that fluoridated water is used in the production of so many products – juices, soda pop and coffee, for example – that the amount of the chemical consumed could be more than the Canadian regulation.

“It is really hard to determine how much you are taking in,” he said.

There are enough questions about the detrimental effects of fluoride that more study is needed before it is accepted into the water supply, Wille argued.

But Ryding said that the use of fluoride in drinking water “is endorsed by all of the major (health-care) professional groups.”

That includes the World Health Organization, the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Dental Association and the Canadian Pediatric Society, he said.

As for studies that state fluoride does not stop tooth decay, Ryding flatly disagreed.

“It does work,” he said, so much so that the Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta, Ga., called it one of the 10 most important public health initiatives of the 20th Century.

Ryding also noted that a study of county junior kindergarten students found 3.29 per cent had early childhood tooth decay (even though only Picton uses fluoridated water, kids from other county communities drink the water, pop and other water-based products purchased in Picton, Ryding said. It is called the halo effect).

In Hastings and Prince Edward counties overall, the percentage stood more than twice as high at 8.5 per cent.

Dr. Richard Schabas, medical officer of health, called fluoridation of water a “remarkable success story.”

Residents can get on the agenda and talk to the board by contacting chairman Lori Slik at 613-966-0764 or e-mail