Saying, “fluoride is a toxic waste that probably does more harm than good,” Moncton Councillor-at-large Pierre Boudreau called on city staff this week to report back at the next public meeting of council on the amount of fluoridation done to the city’s municipal water supply.
The answer to that question, says Ensor Nicholson, the city’s director of water services, is 0.7 milligrams per litre, less than half the Canadian maximum allowable concentration in Canada.
“We follow Health Canada’s lead on this, and their expert panel set it (the optimal amount) at 0.7, so that’s what we do,” Nicholson said.
While Boudreau worried aloud at this week’s public meeting of city council that excess fluoride might even cause a form of cancer, Nicholson said the city policy to date is to defer the findings of Health Canada’s expert panel of scientists that was assembled from across North America in 2007.
That panel found the, “weight of evidence does not support a link between exposure to fluoride and increased risks of cancer.”
Nevertheless, Boudreau noted that the expert opinion on what is an optimal amount of fluoride has dropped over the 50 years since it was widely introduced to drinking water and said, “the question now is not how much fluoride is too much, but do we need it at all?”
That, he said, was particularly relevant since fluoride is prevalent in toothpastes and much of our processed foods and beverages because factories tend to use fluoridated municipal water supplies in their processing.
Health Canada’s panel said the main, “concern for fluoride is still considered to be ‘moderate dental fluorosis,'”
However, the panel’s consensus was that this should not be considered a toxicological end-point, but that this endpoint is significant because it correlates with cosmetic problems.”
Excessive fluoride can actually darken the teeth it’s meant to strengthen, but other than the cosmetic issue, Health Canada saw no real health concern until much higher concentrations of fluoride are introduced to humans.
That can sometimes happen in untreated well water, the City of Moncton’s Nicholson said, if the wells are in areas where high amounts of fluoride occur naturally. In those cases, fluoride can also affect bone health.
As for adverse effects on teeth from water treated up to the maximum acceptable concentration, “there is no reason to be concerned about the actual prevalence of very mild and mild dental fluorosis in Canada,” Health Canada’s panel said. “In addition, the actual prevalence of moderate dental fluorosis in Canada is low, and all evidence suggests that since 1996 there has been an overall decreasing trend of dental fluorosis in Canada.”