Fluoride Action Network

Fairview: Is fluoridated water on the chopping block?

Source: Fairview Post | May 22nd, 2012 | By Chris Eakin
Location: Canada, Alberta

In 1957 the citizens of Fairview voted in a plebiscite 92% in favour of adding fluoride to the water after local dentist Dr. Merose Woronuk proposed the concept. Now the town is going to be asking people if they want to stop adding fluoride to the water.

On May 15 of this year, Town CAO Larry Davidson suggested to Town Council that they stop adding fluoride to water for “technical reasons.”

Right now, the town has plans, as part of phase three upgrades to the water plant, to improve control of the amount of fluoride added to the water and that particular upgrade has a fairly high price ($15,000 according to a January 2012 estimate).

How much of a tax increase would it take to pay for that upgrade?

That price is actually for moving both chlorine and fluoride injection points so the whole amount should not be put on fluoride injection.

Other reasons cited by CAO Davidson: people now get fluoride from other sources such as toothpaste so they don’t need it as much, adding fluoride to the water is medicating people and should the town be in that business? He also said some people believe fluoride carries a health risk, some communities have stopped adding fluoride for various reasons, and there is a certain hazard in handling fluoride at the water plant.

Also, as long as the town is adding fluoride, a level three water plant operator is required to be in charge (with Public Works Director Garry Leathem filling that spot).

When Leathem goes on vacation, the town has to bring in a level three operator from elsewhere to cover. If fluoride is dispensed with, one of the town’s level two water plant operators would be able to fill in for Leathem.

On the legal side of things, the provincial government does not require fluoride be added to the water but does regulate the amount that may be added.

Finally, the province is considering changes to the regulations covering waste water treatment and as part of that may require the removal of certain substances from waste water before it can be released to rivers.

Among those substances Davidson believes they might include pharmaceuticals and fluoride, both of which are now in the waste stream having passed through our bodies.

On the technical side, Leathem says the level of fluoride in the water is supposed to be .8 milligrams (mg) per litre with an allowable variation of .2 mg above or below that amount.

If the level goes beyond that variation, he has 24 hours to bring it back to specification after which he must report the water plant as not being in compliance.

Presently, Leathem says his target is .6 mg per litre and the level of fluoride varies outside the levels twice a week, but on the low side, not the high side.

During upgrades to the water plant, the town had a temporary amendment to its licence allowing it to shut down fluoridation when it went out of specification but that has lapsed.

CAO Davidson asked council to approve one of four possible options:

1) Authorize administration to obtain an amendment to the water treatment plant license to discontinue the use of fluoride.

2)Authorize administration to obtain an amendment of the license for temporary disruptions of fluoride when levels cannot be achieved.

3) Authorize administration to do a public survey to bring public opinion and bring the results back to council for a decision.

4) Authorize administration to prepare a plebiscite as part of the 2013 municipal election.

Councillor Larry Chorney suggested council accept the proposal for information and get public reaction to it before acting.

Councillor Tony Prybysh was against doing away with fluoride, saying it is a health benefit to the young and is cost effective.

He pointed out that the amount added to the water has actually be lowered over the years to balance the fluoride that people may ingest from other sources such as toothpaste.

He also said tooth decay went down in town kids starting when fluoride was added and has gone up since people started drinking more bottled water rather than tap water.

As for hazards in handling fluoride at the water plant, Prybysh said that with water plant upgrades, handling it should be safer.

Councillor Tim Schindel said he believes there is enough in toothpaste that it really isn’t needed in the water and repeated Davidson’s statement that by adding fluoride to the water the town is medicating people and he doesn’t know if they should be doing that.

Councillor Chorney moved that the proposal be accepted for information with administration to get public input, that motion was carried.

He then added a second motion to get an amendment to the water license to allow for temporary disruptions to the fluoride injection when it varies beyond the allowed amount and that motion also carried.

If you have strong feelings one way or another about fluoride in the water, make those feelings known or town council may act as they see fit believing nobody really cares one way or another.