Fluoride will return to the Windsor area’s water system in roughly six months, the local health unit says.
Although the decision to reintroduce the chemical was made in 2018, a 12-month pipe loop study to test for possible increases in lead levels by Windsor Utilities Commission — which has yet to finish — as well as COVID-19 pandemic closures and travel restrictions, caused further delay.
“With the reintroduction of fluoride, we know that it would help improve the oral health of our community,” said Medical Officer of Health Dr. Wajid Ahmed on Friday. He opposed its removal in 2013.
Added to the city’s water system for decades to strengthen tooth enamel and prevent cavities, fluoride was removed from the local water supply in 2013 after a lengthy debate in front of Windsor city council that reportedly saw health data presented on both sides of the issue. Those against believed fluoride could potentially be a cancer risk or cause other health complications.
The decision by city council to approve a five-year ban was made against the wishes of the local health unit and dentist association. Council for the Town of Tecumseh, which is tapped into the local water system, also narrowly supported the removal.
An oral health report released by the health unit in 2018, five years after fluoride’s removal, showed a significant decline in oral health, including a 51 per cent rise in serious tooth decay among kids.
“Our oral health has been declining in our community. It continues to decline the longer we delay,” he said. Fluoridation has been “identified as an important public health intervention.”
Three years after fluoride’s removal, Windsor Utilities Commission began adding phosphoric acid to the mix as a corrosion control tactic to create a protective barrier inside lead water lines to stop lead from leaching into the water. Since adding fluoride to a system with corrosion control reportedly hadn’t been done before, the commission decided on the lengthy pipe loop study to test how the chemicals would react over time.
While the results of the ongoing study have not yet been released, the risk of lead leaching as a result of fluoridation was previously reported to be low.
Fluoridation had been happening in Windsor for 51 years when council banned it.
*Original article online at https://windsorstar.com/news/local-news/fluoride-to-re-enter-drinking-water-in-november
• May 8, 2018, Fluoride debate put on hold in Windsor
• January 24, 2019, Canadian cities rethink removal of fluoride from tap water
• March 26, 2019, Fluoride formally approved by Windsor city council
• April 9, 2019, Fluoride coming back into Windsor’s water, after Tecumseh’s yes vote
• Feb 27, 2020, Re-introduction of fluoride in Windsor delayed due to lead study
• May 21, 2021: CBC News: Fluoride expected to return to Windsor water supply in the fall, health unit says
• May 21, 2021, Windsor Star: Fluoride to re-enter drinking water in November
• May 21, 2021, CTV: Fluoride reintroduced to Windsor water this November