A grassroots group of citizens has begun a campaign to rid the water supply of fluoride. Patriots on Guard hope to deliver 14,000 flyers weekly to draw attention to the fluoridation issue, provided they can enlist volunteers and donations.

“It’s wrong to impose poison on people,” says spokesman Fred Kyburz.

The group has conducted previous door-to-door campaigns, and he estimates that it has delivered 200,000 flyers on other issues. Kyburz says it is now fighting fluoridation because of “the destructive effects of fluoride on the human body.”

Fluoridation has been a controversial issue in Calgary for nearly 50 years. Six plebiscites have been held on the issue, including one in the last municipal election, and it’s been a porcupine quill in the snout of local politicians since it was introduced into the water in 1991.

Currently, city hall adds 0.7 parts per million of fluoride to the drinking water – the amount was lowered two years ago based on concerns that Calgarians were receiving excessive amounts. Every few weeks, a tanker truck rolls into Calgary’s Glenmore and Bearspaw water treatment facilities to deliver hydrofluosilicic acid. The truck carries a hazardous goods sign because its cargo is a highly corrosive liquid. The substance is pumped directly into an isolated room that contains a specially-lined holding tank.

In Kamloops, the danger of hydrofluosilicic acid caused citizens to stop the practise of adding it to the water when the acid leaked out of a similar holding tank, ate through a concrete retaining wall, then spilled into the lake.

Some officials, like Health and Wellness Minister Gary Mar, think fluoridation is perfectly fine. In an e-mail reply to a query on the subject, Mar suggests that fluoride is a nutrient.

“Many municipalities add fluoride to their drinking water systems as a dietary supplement to reduce the formation of dental cavities,” he says.

But last year’s Nobel Prize co-winner for medicine thinks fluoridation is a bad idea. In an exclusive e-mail interview, Dr. Arvid Carlsson of Sweden argues that fluoridating the drinking water should be stopped.

“Fluoridation of water supplies would also treat people who may not benefit from the treatment. Side effects cannot be excluded, and thus some people might only have negative effects, without any benefit,” says Carlsson.

“Fluoridation of water supplies would lead to dosages depending on water consumption rather than on individual needs. Local treatment, for example via toothpaste, has been found very effective…. In Sweden, water fluoridation, therefore, to my knowledge, is no longer advocated by anybody. In Sweden, the emphasis nowadays is to keep the environment as clean as possible with regard to pharmacologically active and thus potentially toxic substances.”

In their first brochure, Patriots on Guard boldly state it is criminal to add a poison to the drinking water, and call upon people to question why Dr. Brent Friesen, CRHA’s medical officer of health, supports the measure. In pure democratic fashion, members of the group will be wearing out shoe leather delivering information directly to Calgarians to gain support for ending fluoridation.

People interested in learning more about the Patriots on Guard can call 519-2102 or contact kyburz@telusplanet.net.