A Calgary alderman is urging council to revisit the issue of adding fluoride to city drinking water.
Ald. Druh Farrell said she’s concerned by new information on the damaging effects of fluoridating water and is thinking of bringing the issue to council.
“It always makes sense to review new information,” said Farrell.
Water fluoridation has been a heavily debated topic in Calgary and around Canada for decades.
“I personally have never been in favour of medicating our drinking water,” said Farrell.
Farrell said fluoride is “considered a serious poison” and questions whether it is effective.
She points to studies that link water fluoridation to hyperthyroidism and other health problems.
Ald. Joe Ceci said he doesn’t believe fluoride should be removed from the city’s water and denied there is new information saying it’s harmful.
“I look at it as something that is a positive for society;
. . . those who are assisted by fluoride in the water, particularly people who are poor, people whose dental health and decay would be much worse if there wasn’t fluoride in the water,” Ceci said.
“I’m just really thinking that there’s an overall benefit to society larger than the negative.”
Dr. Richard Musto, the Calgary Health Region’s medical officer of health, said the agency has always been an advocate of fluoridation, maintaining the addition of the chemical is a useful practice.
“It is a safe, effective and efficient way of delivering cavity-preventing measures,” said Musto.
“Tooth decay continues to be something we have to worry about.”
Musto said that despite fluoridated toothpastes and increased access to dentists, fluoridation is a simple technique that is wide-reaching.
“Fluoridation is really the single measure that gets to everybody,” said Musto.
Musto said research regarding fluoridation is continually taking place around the globe.
“National bodies continue to undertake systematic reviews (of fluoridation),” said Musto.
Musto said the health region surveys the literature concerning fluoridation on a “regular and consistent basis.”
Fluoridation is an adjustment of the natural level of fluoride in the water to benefit dental health.
It has long been used as a cost-effective and far-reaching technique that helps prevent tooth decay, he said.
The City of Calgary began adding fluoride to its water supply in 1991 following a plebiscite in the 1989 election that saw 53 per cent of voters in favour of using the chemical.
Another plebiscite during the 1998 municipal election endorsed fluoridation by 55 per cent.
Previous plebiscites on this issue occurred in 1971, 1966, 1961 and 1957.
During the 2007 municipal election campaign, some alderman acknowledged it could soon be time to review the latest information on fluoridation.
Calgary’s water is fluoridated at 0.7 parts per million.
© The Calgary Herald 2008