Alberta Environment has rejected the effort of four doctors who want Calgary to keep fluoridating its drinking water.
The decision clears the way for the city administration to follow council’s wish and cease adding fluoride to the water supply by early May.
After unsuccessfully trying to persuade aldermen that fluoridation was a proven cavity fighter, Alberta Health Services, two dentists and a University of Calgary family medicine professor each urged Alberta Environment to consider the public health consequences to individuals of ending fluoridation.
The department effectively chose not to rule on a health issue or second-guess the wisdom of city council’s 10-3 vote, deciding that none of the objectors was “directly affected” by removing the chemical.
“After reviewing the statements of concern, we found that none demonstrated a specific relationship to the proposed changes,” said Alberta Environment spokeswoman Carrie Sancartier.
Dr. James Dickinson, with the U of C faculty of medicine, said he understands why the department determined its authority didn’t extend to the public health concerns.
But Dickinson said he still doesn’t understand why council didn’t accept all the expert evidence it was offered that shows that fluoridation works and isn’t harmful.
“The big issue is council has been fooled by unscientific charlatans” on the antifluoridation side, Dickinson charged.
Aldermen voted to end 20 years of fluoride-treated water in February, after a public hearing that featured several medical professionals and AHS officials on the pro-fluoride side, and mainly non-expert citizens touting research and ethical concerns on the other side.
Council rejected the idea of another fluoridation plebiscite or having the U of C’s school of public health assess the benefits and risks of fluoride-treated water, but some council members said the medical question concerned them less than the ethics of “mass-medicating” the populace.
The city plans to pass a new water bylaw May 9 to enact the change, and it would take a few more days for Alberta Environment to authorize it, Sancartier said.
Then, the city’s treatment plants would no longer add fluoride compounds to the water supply. It would then take several weeks for all the system’s water to return to natural fluoride concentrations of 0.2 or 0.3 parts per million, versus the current level of 0.7 ppm.