RESIDENTS in Churchill will decide next month if they want fluoride in the town’s water supply.
The Churchill town council has recently agreed to hold a plebiscite in September on the practice of fluoridation, which is credited with fighting tooth decay.
The coming vote is seen as a victory by a local environmental group, Churchill No Fluoride, that has been lobbying to end fluoridation.
Rick Brackley, spokesman for Churchill No Fluoride, said his group has been lobbying council for three years and it welcomes the vote. He said the fluoride used in water treatment is derived from fertilizer processing.
“It’s a toxic waste product,” Brackley said of fluoride, adding there is no scientific evidence to support claims it prevents cavities and recent studies have identified fluoride as facilitating the absorption of lead in children.
However, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States said past and current reviews of scientific studies found no basis to claims that fluoride poses a health hazard. The CDC describes fluoride as one of the “ten great public health achievements” of the last century, along with vaccinations, motor-vehicle safety and family planning. It does state children’s exposure to fluoride from birth to age six should be restricted.
Flin Flon stopped adding fluoride to its water supply at the end of July and Calgary stopped in May. Churchill officials could not be reached for comment.
Dr. Khalida Hai-Santiago, a dental consultant with Manitoba Health, said about 95 per cent of Manitobans have access to fluoridated drinking water.
Hai-Santiago said the province supports fluoridation as an effective way to combat tooth decay, adding it would encourage Churchill to continue the practice.
Winnipeg has been fluoridating its water since 1956. The city recently lowered the fluoride content from 0.85 milligrams per litre to 0.7 mg/L, based on recommendations from Health Canada and Manitoba Health.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends the maximum lifetime exposure to fluoride be 4.0 mg/L and a secondary standard of 2.0 mg/L for areas that have high levels of naturally occurring fluoride.
Brackley said fluoride is pervasive in water and there’s no way of knowing how much people are absorbing.