SYDNEY — Fluoride will remain in the drinking water in Cape Breton Regional Municipality.
After a marathon session with proponents and opponents of fluoridation, councillors voted Tuesday night not only to keep the cavity-preventing chemical in the drinking water but also not to put the question to a plebiscite.
“You can cherry-pick the studies to make your point, and statistics are easy to manipulate,” said Dr. Andrew Lynk, a Sydney pediatrician who is medical officer for the Cape Breton district health authority.
After reading studies, some of which he suggested had serious design flaws, Lynk told council he believes the best choice for cavity prevention is to continue putting fluoride in the water.
“I’m confident it has a safe and modest benefit,” he said.
Meanwhile, Marlene Cain, who has been leading the charge against the use of fluoride, suggested the fluoride found in toothpaste should be enough to prevent cavities.
“It is an extremely toxic chemical that accumulates in bones,” she said. “It’s an industrial hazardous waste collected from the fertilizer industry and trucked up from Florida to the city, costing up to $100,000 a year.”
Rather than putting it in the drinking water, it would make more sense to use a toothpaste with fluoride, Cain said.
“We can simply brush our teeth and spit it out,” she said.
On the other hand, dentist Dr. Burton Conrod described fluoride as the No. 1 weapon in the war against cavities and he told council that if he had to choose between fluoride in the drinking water or fluoride in toothpaste, he would choose the water.
Dr. Paul Connett, professor emeritus of chemistry at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., used Skype to make his presentation to council. He and Dr. Jim Beck, professor emeritus of medical biophysics at the University of Calgary, co-authored a book called The Case Against Fluoride.
Both men outlined their concerns to councillors about the use of fluoride in drinking water. Beck, who flew in from Calgary, was recently part of a successful campaign to persuade the Alberta city to discontinue use of the chemical.
But their efforts were in vain as council didn’t have much appetite for the idea by the end of the night.
Coun. Gordon MacLeod and others took exception to remarks from fluoride opponents suggesting doctors and dentists were merely paid lackeys who support the use of fluoride without having investigated it.