On the heels of a decision by the City of Calgary to remove fluoride from its water, and nearby Fort St. John in the same process, the fluoride debate is growing again in Grande Prairie
Stacey Olson, who started a petition entitled Stop Fluoridation in Grande Prairie’s Water, cites lack of public consent and possibly health risks as reasons to remove the fluoride from the water.
“I’m very health conscious and aware of what I put into my body and if fluoride is put into the drinking water, we have no control,” said Olson.
So far, the online petition has close to 200 signatures, but copies have been circulating to health food stores across the city and Olson expects to add at least 100 more signatures through the paper copies.
“I’m very health conscious and aware of what I put into my body and if fluoride is put into the drinking water, we have no control.”
– Stacey Olson
“As soon as it was online, someone blogged about it right away,” said Olson. “And lots of people have been contacting me and saying thank you, it’s way overdue, so the petition has gotten through to quite a few people.”
Olson plans to deliver the petition to Aquatera, which controls the city’s water supply. However, the company has an agreement with the provincial government stating it must fluoridate the water, but that contract is up for renewal soon.
Nearby Fort St. John, B.C. is in the thick of the same debate and city officials have arranged a referendum vote aligned with the municipal election on Nov. 19.
The issue first arrived at the B.C. city council’s door with delegations from many community members, then went through council where it finally decided to turn the issue over to a referendum.
“It’s one of those 50/50-type questions,” said Coun. Dan Davies. “It seems like half of the people are for and half the people are against.”
In order to help the public to make an informed decision, the city hosted a debate with a representative from Health Canada for the addition of fluoride to the water and University of Calgary professor emeritus Dr. James Beck who is passionate about the removal of the chemical.
An advocate for the removal of fluoride from Calgary’s water supply, which was removed earlier this year, Beck is now focusing his attention on the rest of the province.
According to Beck, his victory in Calgary has brought the percentage of Albertans with fluoride added to their water down to roughly 45% from close to 73%.
Beck states that fluoride, which has been labelled as a carcinogen, is a toxic compound that is linked to various health problems such as thyroid weakening, lower IQ in children and cardiovascular problems.
Fluoride is naturally occurring in water, but in many municipalities, the chemical hydrofluosilicic acid is added to boost the amount of fluoride in the water.
One of the main reasons that the fluoride debate becomes so large is because of the polarization of opinions.
Alberta Health Services Medical Officer of Health North Zone Dr. Albert de Villiers of Grande Prairie says the current levels added to Canadian water supplies offer little to no chance of negative effects on anyone who drinks the water.
“If the level is higher than those levels – fluoride is in food and other materials as well – the only thing that can really happen is fluorosis of the teeth,” said de Villiers.
In some Asian countries, de Villiers says, naturally occurring fluoride levels are much higher than those in Canada, which can create major problems, but since Canadian municipalities follow strict guidelines for fluoride use, there is no chance of this happening.
Fluoride was originally introduced into Canadian municipalities in the 1940s, when researchers found that some communities with higher naturally occurring fluoride levels in their water had better oral health than those with lower levels.