The meeting at Oakville Town Hall was organized by Oakvillegreen as a means to give concerned townspeople an opportunity to become informed through questions and discussions with the guest speakers.
Fluoridating tap water was first seen as a way to prevent cavities in the 1940s, It was later confirmed through medical research that fluoride works best when applied topically to teeth with fluoride toothpaste.
The panel argued that drinking it could expose the body to the toxin without providing beneficial effects.
Sheldon Thomas, who was on the panel, is a retired manager of Hamilton’s water distribution. Thomas spent more than 25 years operating and managing Hamilton’s water infrastructure.
“I’m not new to water. I’m not new to distribution and I’m reasonably intelligent. I started asking questions about who is going to come around and actually study my son’s body because he doesn’t need any more (toxins) in his water.”
Thomas now operates a training and consulting company in Burlington for water distribution systems, called Clear Water Legacy.
He said he finally did get an answer regarding the use of hydrofluorosilicic acid (HFSA) to fluoridate public drinking water — it was a “chemistry lesson 101,” he said.
Thomas explained HFSA can completely dissociate if water is distilled at least a couple of times, in a lab using pharmaceutical-brazed sodium fluoride.
“Then maybe, you will get this 100 per cent dissociation. But what we’re working with is adding an obnoxious chemical — which is anything other than pharmaceutical-grade sodium — into lake water and groundwater with all the contaminants and chemical and mineral signatures that are there. Does that sound like 99.97 per cent pure?” he asked.
Thomas said he doesn’t accept Health Canada guidelines stating HFSA is safe in drinking water when dissociation occurs.
Panelist and Oakville resident Diane Sprules said fluoride can be removed from water at home in three ways — distillation filtration, an activated alumina defluoridation filter and reverse osmosis filtration.
In 2008, the Canadian government responded to an environmental petition to discontinue water fluoridation. In the response, Environment Canada stated, “hydrofluorosilicic acid, also known as fluorosilicic acid, is identified as a dangerous good under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations and has been classified as a Class 8 corrosive substance.”
HFSA is also used to wash the air pollution scrubbers of the chimneys of phosphate fertilizer plants in the southern United States.
Health Canada works with the provinces and territories through the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee on drinking water to develop guidelines for the quality of Canadian drinking water.
The agency issued a statement in June on the effects of fluoridated water — “Currently available peer-reviewed scientific studies continue to indicate that there are no adverse health effects from exposure to fluoride in drinking water at or below the maximum acceptable concentration.”
A 2009 Health Canada Consultation report suggests evidence from all currently available studies do not support a link between exposure to fluoride in drinking water at 1.5 mg/L and any adverse health effects — including those related to cancer, immunotoxicity, reproductive/developmental toxicity, genotoxicity and/or neurotoxicity.
The report also does not support a link between fluoride exposure and intelligence quotient (IQ) deficit, as there are significant concerns regarding the available studies, including quality, credibility, and methodological weaknesses.
As a result, the optimal concentration of fluoride in drinking water for dental health has been determined to be 0.7 mg/L for communities that fluoridate.
Of the possible effects due to prolonged exposure to high levels of fluoridated water, skeletal fluorosis is the most serious adverse health effect, according to Health Canada. Skeletal fluorosis can occur at very high exposure levels, but has rarely been documented in Canada.
Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care says the benefits of water fluoridation are well documented. It states according to expert research, fluoridated drinking water reduces the number of cavities in children’s teeth, which contributes to their healthy development.
Reductions of tooth decay have also been observed in adults and seniors who reside in communities with fluoridated water. The ministry referred to an American Dental Association report that said water fluoridation continues to be effective in reducing tooth decay by an estimated 20 to 40 per cent.
Some communities across Canada have already ended water fluoridation. Waterloo narrowly passed a vote last year to end fluoridation. In May, Calgary city council ended fluoridation, with an estimated cost saving of $750,000 a year.
In Halton, the Region adds fluoride to the water supply in Burlington, Halton Hills, Oakville and the new developments in Milton. Municipal water in old Milton, supplied by ground water, doesn’t have fluoride added.
A 2006 regional report shows 22 per cent of nine year olds in Halton had fluorosis and 64 per cent of those cases were mild fluorosis and the symptoms were only cosmetic.
As of 2007, 45.1 per cent of Canadians had access to fluoridated water supplies, according to the Canadian Dental Association. The percentage of the Canadian population with fluoridated water differs — from 3.7 per cent in B.C., 6.4 per cent in Québec and 1.5 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador to 75.9 per cent in Ontario and 69.9 per cent in Manitoba.
The Town’s health department is preparing a report on water fluoridation in Halton for January. The panel recommended those who oppose water fluoridation should attend Halton Region’s Health and Social Services Committee meeting in January where the issue will be discussed — and later voted on at a regional council meeting.
“It just doesn’t make sense to me that you can’t dispose of this in our environment, in any way — in our land or in the ocean or in the lakes. So why is it safe to put it in drinking water?” said Cindy Mayor, a member of Canadians Opposed to Fluoridation.
The committee meeting is set for Tuesday, Jan. 10 at 9:30 a.m. in the Council Chambers at the Halton Regional Complex at 1151 Bronte Rd.
For information on Oakvillegreen, visit www.oakvillegreen.org.