Fluoride Action Network

London: Politicians downplay fluoride shortage

Source: The London Free Press | SUN MEDIA
Posted on November 19th, 2007
Location: Canada, Ontario

Londoners are going without fluoride in their water again — and without public notice again.

But city politicians say there’s no threat to health with a short-term gap in the cavity-fighting substance so there’s no need to tell anyone.

“I don’t think Londoners’ teeth are going to rot in a week,” Controller Bud Polhill said. “I don’t think it required a major announcement when it’s going to be out for a week.”

Polhill and other members of the environment transportation committee learned from city staff a week ago London had run out of fluoride for water coming from Lake Erie, which serves about 15 per cent of the city.

The shortage is expected to last a couple of weeks.

Committee members made no mention of the shortage until asked about it on the weekend.

The same reluctance to talk about fluoride occurred in late September, when The Free Press learned fluoride had been missing from the Lake Huron water supply — which serves 85 per cent of the city — for several weeks.

A new supply of fluoride was found for the Lake Huron system within a month.

At the time, health officials said they figured there was little danger to teeth as long as the lack of fluoride lasted only a few weeks.

That seemed to comfort politicians this time around, as well.

“We’ve had this before,” said Coun. Harold Usher, environment committee chairperson. “The first time was a shock. This time it wasn’t a big deal.”

But fellow committee member Steve Orser said in retrospect the public should have been notified.

“I think the public should always be told about anything to do with health,” he said.

Demand for fluoride has outpaced supply across North America, creating a shortage that has affected many cities.

Health officials advise residents to continue brushing their teeth with fluoride-enhanced toothpaste during the shortages.