Residents getting their drinking water from the water plant in Falher probably have not noticed that the water has not contained fluoride for almost one month. Fluoride was discontinued in early September after a measuring metre malfunctioned.

Extensive research shows that fluoride in water is more harmful than healthy. “Latest studies indicate that ingestion of fluoride doesn’t help prevent tooth decay, that topical application (directly on the teeth) is the most beneficial,” says Marco Gervais, manager of Smoky River Water Commission.

Generally, applying fluoride to the water was intended to help prevent tooth decay, primarily in the younger years, he says. However, after extensive research, he discovered that professionals find fluoride does more harm than good.

Smoky River Regional Water Commission passed a motion at its meeting Sept. 24 to discontinue fluoride after Gervais extensively researched the issue. Since this decision, he has received no opposition to the change. “I figured I would get all kinds of calls, but I have received just three,” says Gervais speaking with the Express last week, noting that none of these people are opposed.

“One person thanked us for taking the fluoride out.” “Another person was just curious about why fluoride was not being added, and another person just wanted some more information about the decision.”

“How many people actually drink the water,” he questioned. “Most people drink bottled water.” Bottled drinking water is not regulated while public water systems are heavily regulated, notes Gervais. This month, Smoky River Regional Water Commission notified its estimated 650 customers in the Town of Falher, Village of Girouxville, the hamlets of Guy and Jean Cote, and those connected with the Smoky River Regional Water Co-op on these lines, that fluoride is no longer being added to the water, says Gervais.

“I haven’t received any complaints,” says Falher Mayor Margaret Tardif who chairs the commission. “More people probably get fluoride at the dentist.” The Town of McLennan is not part of the commission while the Village of Donnelly has never fluoridated its water, says Gervais.

“There’s a scarcity of fluoride, that’s what started the discussion,” says Tardif. After discovering that the metre to measure the fluoride in the water was not working, Gervais shut it off after getting authority from Peace Country Health public health department. When reviewing water system documents from Alberta Environment to operate the system, the commission is not authorized to operate the system with fluoride.

“The Environment officials said that if the commission wants to re-introduce fluoride into the water system, the commission has to go to plebiscite with all its users.”

The water commission cannot assume that all water users want fluoride in their water, says Tardif.

When researching on the internet, Gervais found an information sheet dated Aug. 9, 2007 by the Fluoride Action Network – Calling for an End to Water Fluoridation, signed by 600 professionals from 39 different countries including 50 professionals from Canada and 10 from Alberta.

Extensive research by this network indicates that fluoride has more adverse affects including Alzheimer’s disease, osteosarcoma (a frequently fatal bone cancer). increased risk of bone fractures, decreased thyroid function, lowered IQ, arthritic-like conditions, and dental fluorisis. osteosarcoma (a frequently fatal bone cancer).