Catherine Ford is a columnist and has the right to share her opinion, however misinformed it is. She states, “The anti-fluoride crowd is passionate in its argument against the additive, calling it poison, saying it builds up in the body and causes all sorts of dreadful conditions, taking the “risk” to its voodoo extreme.” We recommend to Catherine Ford that she read about the Mother-Offspring fluoride studies, particularly as some are recent ones from Canada, as well as other studies found here. And yes, fluoride bioaccumulates in the body and is estimated to have a half-life in the human bone of 20 years, which is quite long. According to the 2006 report on the toxicology of fluoride by the National Academies of Sciences (page 92):
“…Chronic dosing leads to accumulation in bone and plasma (although it might not always be detectable in plasma.) Subsequent decreases in exposure cause fluoride to move back out of bone into body fluids, becoming subject to the same kinetics as newly absorbed fluoride. A study of Swiss aluminum workers found that fluoride bone concentrations decreased by 50% after 20 years…” (EC)
The smartest guy in the room has an opportunity to give Calgary children the best belated Christmas present ever: the gift of better health, fewer dental cavities and a lifetime of chomping their way with their own teeth through whatever the future holds for them.
I am, of course, referring to Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and the reintroduction of fluoride to the city’s water supply. It won’t happen before the end of the year, but it could be a promise for 2021. All it should take is the power of persuasion, the coherence of expert opinion and the logic of science. All of this is readily available.
I’ve railed about fluoride and its long history of misinformation and fear-mongering before. Since then, Nenshi has mused about putting the question of returning fluoride to the water supply to a vote, while councillors think about the cost of the project. (An estimated $10 million in capital expenses and $1 million annual operating costs. Before anyone boggles at that number, consider city officials have said there would be no rate increase.)
The mayor has offered three options: do nothing, set up a plebiscite for the next civic election or make a motion to council. Doing nothing is not an option; holding a plebiscite is the cowardly way out of making a decision. (There have been six fluoride plebiscites since 1957, which makes only the push for the introduction of daylight saving time as contentious an issue.) That leaves a motion to council.
The expert medical advice is strong in its support of fluoride. University of Calgary professor Juliet Guichon has used the word “need” to describe the necessity of reintroducing fluoride. “Dental decay is the most common chronic disease of childhood,” she has said.
Naturally, the anti-fluoride crowd has a pat and smug answer for that: Let’s put the money into better nutrition and help for the underprivileged who do not have company dental plans or enough money to foot the bills. So did we do that? Did we actually put the money into better care for children since city council arbitrarily eliminated fluoride from our water? Right. We know just how that worked out in the past 10 years — a dramatic increase in children’s cavities.
The anti-fluoride crowd is passionate in its argument against the additive, calling it poison, saying it builds up in the body and causes all sorts of dreadful conditions, taking the “risk” to its voodoo extreme.
In 2011, Councillor (then Alderman) Druh Farrell led an anti-fluoride coup and nine of the lemmings, AKA most of the rest of the council, agreed with her. Nobody asked the citizens of Calgary if we wanted council to arbitrarily overturn the result of a plebiscite in which voters approved adding fluoride to the water.
Any parent concerned about council spending that amount of money to reintroduce fluoride may want to add up their children’s annual dental bills and do some judicious accounting of the savings eliminating many of the cavities that won’t appear and result in a trip to a dentist.
If there were to be a vote next Oct. 18, the mayor would not be free of all criticism, even if he does not run for re-election. Even if he was in town for the council vote 10 years ago, clearly there was no need for a tie-breaker vote.
But his calm voice of logic may have changed the vote. I still marvel how supposedly grown-up adults would willingly choose to put children at risk by removing the additive. It was close to the height of hypocrisy, aided and abetted by fervent and fervid anti-fluoride voices.
As a child who grew up drinking Calgary’s unfluoridated water, I would not want anyone else to live through a childhood seated open-mouthed and wincing in a dentist’s chair. An exaggeration? Not a bit. Consider that my younger brother and sister, growing up drinking Edmonton and Red Deer’s fluoridated water supply had far fewer cavities than I did.
Message to Calgary city council: Do the right thing. Reverse the 2011 decision. Remember, there’s a civic election next year. You will be weighed in the balance. Don’t be found wanting.
Catherine Ford is a regular columnist for the Calgary Herald.