Fluoride applied to the surface of the teeth is good, but drinking fluoride in water is bad, insists an Okotoks resident.

Florence Christophers said she would like the Town of Okotoks to stop adding fluoride to the water and she is presenting a summary of studies conducted on the health effects of drinking fluoridated water on Aug. 30 and Sept. 20 at the Okotoks Public Library.

Over the past several months Christophers has been wading through studies and policies from around the world. She has prepared a binder full of peer-reviewed research showing drinking fluoride causes serious health concerns.

Research shows the rate of cavities is no different between municipalities that add fluoride to the water and municipalities that don’t, she said.

She has also found research stating in municipalities that fluoridate the water there is a significant increase in people whose bones are brittle and suffer from fractures in their senior years.

Christophers said it is compelling a dentist who used to be a key supporter for putting fluoride in water is now a key opponent.

“Dr. Hardy Limeback is the head of preventative dentistry at the University of Toronto and he risks his career to stop it and say, ‘I’m deeply concerned about water fluoridation,’” said Christophers. “He’s someone we can’t write off as a quack.”

Limeback and others started to question what effect fluoride could be having throughout the body, since it has hardens teeth.

It is naïve to think fluoride, when ingested, only affects the teeth, he said.

Limeback’s investigations led him to conclude drinking water with fluoride over a lifetime causes health problems throughout the body including problems with the reproductive system, thyroid, pineal gland and bones.

Christophers appealed to Okotoks town council on Aug. 9 to open the issue to a debate.

The Town began adding fluoride to the drinking water in 1980. In 1998, council held a plebiscite, which asked if residents were in favour of continuing fluoridation of the Town’s water supply. The response was 1,442 residents were in favour and 879 residents were opposed.

Council has since continued the practice.

Christophers said she would like to see the Town stop adding fluoride to water because it is difficult to filter out. Residents who want to drink fluoride could put drops into their water, she said.

“Fluoride is not like chlorine, where you can buy a Brita filter and it takes the chlorine out,” said Christophers. “Even reverse osmosis filters are only 85 per cent effective at removing it.

“A community like Okotoks needs to look at the issue again in the light of new research.”

Mayor Bill McAlpine said council agreed to look into the issue, although no one was designated to spearhead the project, nor was a date set to bring more information back to council. McAlpine said that following Christophers’ presentation, council specifically wants to look into the evidence that supports fluoridating water.

“We’re going to be pursuing the pro-(fluoridating) side and talk to people who support fluoride and see what their arguments are,” said McAlpine. “I’m not aware of this new research, but personally, I have always been in favour of fluoride in the water because it’s such a minute amount and if it helps your teeth, it’s a good thing. But if she’s bringing these things forward, we have to look at the other side (the fluoridated water advocates), as well.”

The Town of Okotoks adds 0.08 milligrams of fluoride per litre of water, operations manager Dave Robertson said. That amount is regulated by Alberta Environment, under guidance from Alberta Health. To eliminate fluoride from the drinking water would require a plebiscite and then council’s support, he said.

“I can’t just turn it off because somebody phoned about it,” said Robertson. “The only way it could be changed is through another plebiscite and council’s endorsement recommending removal.

“There would likely be strong opposition from Alberta Health, but everybody has an opinion on it.”

Not Robertson, however. He said he is sitting on the fence until he reviews the arguments posed by both sides of the issue.

Florence Christophers’ free presentation on the health impacts of drinking fluoridated water takes place at the Okotoks Public Library on Monday, Aug. 30 and Monday, Sept. 20 at 6:30 p.m.