Fluoride Action Network

Calgary: Time to chew on fluoride issue

Source: The Calgary Herald | March 26th, 2009 | r
Location: Canada, Alberta

Open wide…your mind that is. It’s time to brush up on fluoride — again.

Yes, we’ve been down this cavity, er, road before, but five city aldermen say it’s time to reopen the debate on water fluoridation.

We agree for several reasons. The last time this issue was really looked at publicly was during the civic election of 1998 when 55 per cent of Calgarians voted in favour of continuing to add fluoride to our municipal water supply. That was 11 years ago. New medical reports have been released since then that throw into question the efficacy of fluoride in preventing tooth decay, and indicate too much fluoride can harm infants and people with kidney disease, as well as weaken bones and teeth in the general population, if too much is consumed.

Some of this is new information and should be put to the people of Calgary again, to assess whether they want to keep adding this chemical to our water.

As Ald. Druh Farrell rightly pointed out, when you add something to the water supply, those who would choose not to ingest it have no choice at all, whereas those who want fluoride can get it in toothpaste, pills or at the dentist office following regular cleanings.

“It’s putting something in that they might not want to consume.”

Indeed, as the 1998 plebiscite shows, fully 45 per cent of Calgarians voted against adding this compound to our water.

Currently it costs about $600,000 a year to add fluoride to our water. Proponents of fluoride say this saves many times more in dental fees for those who receive the preventive benefits by drinking our water.

But Farrell points out that needed upgrades to the Glenmore and Bearspaw water treatment plants could cost anywhere from$2 million to $5 million. That’s a lot of tubes of toothpaste!

For those who say they are most concerned about removing fluoride because of the effect it will have on lower-income Calgarians, who perhaps don’t use as much fluoridated toothpaste or can’t afford to visit the dentist regularly, Farrell and four other aldermen say they have a solution to that as well.

With the money saved from the annual fluoridation cost, low-income Calgarians could be subsidized to get the fluoride they need.Why it would cost $750,000 over three years to provide a fraction of the population with fluoride supplements if they request them, is baffling, but this is still in the early stages.

Another excellent reason for holding a plebiscite is statistics show that voter turnout increases exponentially when one is held during a municipal election.

There’s enough to chew on here to at least have the debate.

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