Residents of Blind River recently went 98 days without municipally mandated fluoride in their drinking water, members of the Algoma Public Health board learned Wednesday night.
Whenever fluoride concentrations fall below 0.6 parts per million in a fluoridated municipal water supply, the provincial government requires medical officers of health to provide a report to their governing boards if the problem persists for more than 90 days.
In Canada, the decision on whether to fluoridate lwater supplies is made by local governments.
The Town of Blind River has opted for fluoridation.
Sault Ste. Marie has not.
Blind River went without any added fluoride from December 10 until March 18 because an analyzer failed and a part needed for set-up and calibration couldn’t be found.
“It was my understanding that the part was back-ordered,” said Blind River Mayor Sue Jensen.
“We understand that there were some parts that were missing that took some time to receive,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, acting medical officer of health.
“I don’t think it was a preventable issue. All parties were doing their best to get that part in place,” Dr. Sutcliffe said. “At no point was anybody at risk from a health perspective except that, for that period of time, there wasn’t the protection that people would expect from the fluoridation of the water.”
“The operator informed Algoma Public Health that several attempts were made to contact both the supplier and delivery service to determine the reasoning for the delay in receiving this component,” Sutcliffe added in her written report to the board.
“There was a time lapse in which the citizens of Blind River weren’t receiving the fluoride levels that they may have thought was in their water system,” said Sandra Laclé, the health unit’s acting chief executive officer.
“The good news is that the fluoride probe is now working properly,” Laclé said.
On March 18, the PUC office in Blind River advised that it had received calibration standards and fluoride levels were measured at 0.66 parts per million, within the required range.
Interestingly, no one advised Dr. Sutcliffe of the situation in Blind River until it was resolved.
This, Dr. Sutcliffe said, was identified as a “process improvement for future incidents.”
“APH will ensure ongoing monitoring of the Blind River Water Treatment Plant to ensure levels are within acceptable ranges,” she promised.