New revelations suggest that the fluoridation of public water is neither as effective nor as safe as the public has been led to believe.

New findings at Harvard University link fluoridation with osteosarcoma, an often fatal cancer of bone. The American Dental Association and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control have issued warnings that infants and young children should not be given fluoridated water, either by itself or in infant formula.

Proponents of fluoridation now admit that fluorides at concentrations used in fluoridation are associated with serious effects on several different body systems.

Of course one of the first questions about fluoridation is whether it is effective in prevention of dental caries (cavities). It turns out the early investigations of efficacy, presented as proof, actually do not show it to be effective. (The documentation backing this is meticulously presented in the book The Fluoride Deception by Christopher Bryson.)

Furthermore, both early and later research has shown that dental caries has decreased as much or more in control — that is, not fluoridated — cities as in those fluoridated. If fluoridation is not effective, then, regardless of safety, it is at best a waste of a million dollars per year for the city.

On the basis of the new evidence, it is now widely believed among researchers that there may be a very small degree of efficacy. If it exists, it is due to topical application to the teeth rather than a result of taking the fluoride into the body.

The form of fluoride added to the water in Calgary is hydrofluorosilicic acid. This is a substance not approved for medical use.

What happens to it when added to water is not entirely understood; compounds result, not just fluoride ions, and there are interactions of these compounds with contaminants of the hydrofluorosilicic acid, which may explain the higher levels of lead in the blood of people drinking fluoridated water.

Though the concentration in the water is controlled, there is no control of dosage to individuals and the effects are not monitored.

The question of safety is even more important than that of efficacy. Competently done investigations strongly suggest association of fluoridation with fractures of bone, neurological defects of the brain, disease of the thyroid hormonal system, and cancer of bone, among other toxicities.

These associations deserve our attention, and in particular the attention of the city council that has imposed fluoridation on us, and of the Calgary Health Region, which advises city council. But council has refused to reconsider the matter and the CHR has stonewalled efforts to assure the appropriate officials are informed of the evidence.

And it seems the CHR has not warned Calgarians about the dangers for young children, as has been done in the U.S.

As a scientist, I certainly don’t want to imply that science is a popularity contest, but many of our politicians and health-care workers seem to give much weight to who and how many advocate fluoridation.

They may be interested to know that more and more cities are in recent years rejecting fluoridation and that it is illegal in many countries of Europe, where nation after nation has stopped fluoridating water supplies.

Quite a few Canadian cities have refused it as well. Vancouver, as an example, does not fluoridate and suffers no higher incidence of caries than does Calgary.

Given the questions about efficacy of fluoridation and the damage to the human body associated with it, it is appropriate that Dr. David Swann, MLA Mountain View, is sponsoring a forum titled Rethinking Fluoridation: Is it Effective? Safe? Ethical? on May 3 at 7:30 p.m. at the Varsity Acres Community Centre.

Swann will be joined at the forum by Dr. Paul Connett, professor emeritus of chemistry, St. Lawrence University. Connett has for years investigated the methods and consequences of fluoridation and is committed to informed and responsible discussion of the issues it presents.

Unfortunately, the CHR has rejected Swann’s invitation to participate.

Dr. James Beck is a professor at the University of Calgary.