NAIRN AND HYMAN – The mayor of the Township of Nairn and Hyman said he was not surprised the Sudbury and District Health Unit condemned the town council’s recent decision to remove fluoride from the local water supply.
The April 11 vote to end water fluoridation in the township was months in the making, said Mayor Laurier Falldien, and was preceded by a presentation from the health unit to convince the municipality to keep fluoride in its water supply.
But due to vocal concern from some citizens, the township decided to follow other Ontario municipalities, like Parry Sound, most recently, and move away from water fluoridation.
Falldien said around 100 individuals in the township are connected to the municipal water supply, and around 20 people voiced concerns about fluoridation.
In a survey to residents, 80 per cent of respondents said they wanted fluoride removed from the water system.
“The big concern is what’s happening to the body when fluoride is ingested,” he said. “We can’t control a dosage of something we’re basically forcing people to take into their bodies.”
Falldien said some residents were worried about the impact neurological effects of ingesting fluoride and how the inorganic compound is stored in the bones.
“I believe that in the future we’re going to see more evidence against the benefits of fluoride in water,” Falldien said.
But the Sudbury and District Health Unit strongly condemned the township’s decision during its board meeting Wednesday.
“I am very concerned by the Nairn & Hyman Township Council’s decision to remove fluoride from its community water supply,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Sudbury and District medical officer of health, in a statement released later that day. “This is a significant step backwards for oral health for this community. Community water fluoridation makes sure that everyone benefits from the protection that fluoride provides against tooth decay—regardless of factors such as income, age, residence, or education.”
Public health authorities are generally in favour of fluoridation, and have reached a consensus that water fluoridation at appropriate levels is a safe and effective means to prevent suffering and promote oral health.
The health unit said that hundreds of studies and nearly 70 years of experience have supported the positive effects of fluoridation on oral hygiene.
But some systemic reviews of the scientific literature on fluoridation have concluded there is a lack of high-quality research on the risks and benefits of the practice.
The American Centre for Disease Control has said that every dollar invested in community water fluoridation saves $38 in dental treatment.
And the American Dental Association has said that water fluoridation can reduce tooth decay by 20 to 40 per cent.
“The evidence and experience elsewhere is clear that a decision to remove community water fluoridation in Nairn & Hyman or elsewhere would be expected to result in worse oral health among residents, especially children, seniors and those least able to afford dental care,” said Dr. Sutcliffe.
Falldien said he expects fluoride to be removed from the township’s water system by early summer.