The Halton Health and Social Services Committee voted yesterday to send a motion to council to effectively end the use of fluoride in municipal water.
The decision followed a lengthy discussion involving more than a dozen presenters who offered evidence both for and against continuing to fluoridate water.
The motion was first made by Councillor Clark Somerville and would see Halton region not renew fluoride contracts when current supplies are exhausted.
Milton Councillor Colin Best said that process would take a “couple of months.”
Dr. Peter Cooney, chief dental officer for Health Canada, addressed the committee and said numerous studies demonstrate the benefits of fluorinated drinking water.
“This isn’t just a crowd of dentists wandering around looking at teeth,” he said of the American and Canadian dental associations, Toronto Public Health and the World Health Organization which all support fluoridation.
“A lot of people are drinking fluoridated water and they seem to be doing just fine.”
Current Health Canada numbers indicate the optimum level of fluoride in water is 0.7 mg/L.
Numerous citizens spoke in ardent opposition to fluoridated water and presented evidence on the dangers of too much fluoride.
They argued fluoride in municipal water sources has little to no positive effect on teeth health and is leading to dental fluorosis, a condition caused by too much fluoride which stains teeth and makes them brittle. Waterloo Watch executive director Robert Fleming countered many of Health Canada’s claims, saying there is a lack of solid studies indicating there is even any benefit from fluoride.
“After 63 years, if they had any solid scientific research, we would have heard it by now,” he said.
Cooney said cases of moderate to severe fluorosis can be blamed on children swallowing toothpaste and that international studies show fluoride can reduce dental disease in children by up to 40 per cent.
The committee also recommended staff bring council a report on a program of alternatives to deliver fluoride to people who want it.
If the main motion is approved by council, Halton would join a growing list of Canadian municipalities including Niagara and Quebec City to vote to end the use of fluoride. Hamilton city council has also discussed removing fluoride from municipal sources but has not made any decision on the matter.
Halton’s council is expected to discuss the issue next Wednesday.