A glass of municipal water could soon no longer keep the dentist at bay.
Norfolk council will review a staff report tonight recommending the removal of fluoride from both Simcoe and Delhi water systems. The report prepared by the county’s environmental services division cites operators’ long-term exposure to Hydrofluosilicic acid and reliance on equipment to dose chemicals into both systems as some reasons for its removal.
However, the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit strongly supports water fluoridation, calling it “the cornerstone of a comprehensive oral health strategy in Norfolk” in the report. It explains that fluoridated water is a cost effective solution to reducing tooth decay, benefitting all consumers, rich and poor, and all age groups, young and old.
Simcoe dentist Ian Malo echoes these sentiments.
“What we want to guarantee is that everyone has access to it (fluoride) and everyone has access to water,” Malo said, adding that some European countries have turned to putting fluoride in their salt.
But in this community, Malo feels fluoridated water is a cost effective solution to helping prevent tooth decay.
“I believe that fluoride should remain as part of our water supply,” he said, adding that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cited it as one of the top 10 public health initiatives of the 20th century.
While the county could save $43,800 in annual operating costs, Malo is hoping that it’s taken into account that prevention is much cheaper than treatment and its associated expenses, such as having to miss either work or school.
“I would hope that the true cost of treatment (rather) than prevention isn’t being underestimated,” Malo added.
While fellow Simcoe dentist William Janushewski has seen a reduction in both cavities and tooth decay with fluoridated water, he has also witnessed the flip side.
“I also see people suffering with dental fluorosis where they’ve had too much fluoride,” he explained, adding that excessive fluoride can lead to white streaks on patients’ teeth.
And while he generally supports fluoridated water, Janushewski would rather see it removed from our water supply if there’s any doubt of it being properly administered in the water supply.
“If we can’t have fluoride administered in our water properly, I’d rather not see people suffer,” he said, explaining that 260 residents of Hooper Bay, Alaska were poisoned when 150 ppm of fluoride entered the water supply in 1992.
“That’s serious — one man was killed,” Janushewski added.
Norfolk is just the latest community jumping on the fluoride removal bandwagon. Over the last few years, the Region of Waterloo, London and Thunder Bay have been actively involved in the fluoride debate. And this year, the Region of Niagara passed a bylaw to discontinue the fluoridation of its municipal water supply.
Norfolk council would have to move that Eric D’Hondt, general manager of the Public Works and Environmental Services department, be directed to apply to the Ministry of the Environment to make necessary amendments to the certificates of approval for both Simcoe and Delhi’s municipal drinking water systems. Then D’Hondt would have to take the appropriate steps to notify both Simcoe and Delhi users of the removal of fluoridation. At that time, a bylaw would be prepared and have to be approved to direct the Public Works and Environmental Services department to stop the fluoridation of municipal drinking water systems.
Council could vote on the matter at tonight’s council-in-committee meeting, in which case the final decision would be at next week’s regular council session.