Fluoride Action Network

Cape Breton votes to keep fluoride in water supply

Source: The Cape Breton Post | April 19th, 2011 | By Chris Shannon
Location: Canada, Nova Scotia

SYDNEY — Cape Breton regional council voted to keep fluoride in the municipal water supply after more than three hours of furious debate on both sides of the issue.

Council was barraged by statistics, graphs and charts of data during five presentations by dentists, doctors and scientists.

For decades the water systems in Sydney, North Sydney, Glace Bay and New Waterford have used fluoride as a medicating ingredient against tooth decay.

At council’s monthly meeting Tuesday, Dr. James Beck, an influential biophysicist at the University of Calgary who played a key role in convincing politicians to end water fluoridation in that city, told CBRM council the amount of fluoride used in drinking water isn’t at issue, but the inability to control the dosage is the problem.

“A construction worker working in a hot climate outside in the summer is going to drink a lot more water than the office worker in an air conditioned building,” Beck said.

“Infants drink more water, diabetics drink more water than most of us, so there’s no control over the dosage and no one’s watching that.”

A professor specializing in environmental chemistry and toxicology at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., joined the discussion via Skype. Using a PowerPoint presentation, Dr. Paul Connett said fluoride can interfere with brain activity.

He used an example from one study of children in China that linked a lower IQ score to drinking fluoride at a level of 1.9 parts per million a day.

Connett said fluoride builds up in bones and teeth. Children, especially at a young age, can be overexposed to the chemical, which can cause dental fluorosis, a health condition that leaves pits and white marks on teeth, and can alter the development of growing teeth in children.

The municipality has said the type of fluoride used in the CBRM is called hydrofluorisilic acid, which is a byproduct from fertilizer and is certified for use in water supplies.

Local pediatrician Dr. Andrew Lynk said water fluoridation is the first line of defence against tooth decay in children.

With one in six children in Cape Breton living in poverty, Lynk said it has been shown that people on lower incomes don’t pay as close attention to dental hygiene as recommended“.

A study five years ago of all the Grade 2 students in Nova Scotia (showed) in Cape Breton 50 per cent had active dental decay that’s not treated,” he said.

The head of pediatric dentistry at the IWK hospital in Halifax told councillors fluoridated water was most beneficial for children with disabilities such as autism, where brushing their teeth for the recommended two minutes is often very difficult for parents enforce.

Dr. Ross Anderson called dental fluorosis a “esthetic condition” and not considered a dental disease.

While council appreciated the information gathered by the experts, it was overwhelming for some around the table.

Coun. Darren Bruckschwaiger floated the idea of holding a plebiscite, but that was scuttled after several other councillors wanted to make the decision because that’s what they were elected to do.

“I don’t need a plebiscite and I don’t need anything else to convince me how I’m going to vote,” said Coun. Gordon MacLeod.