Approximately 50 people attended a two-hour public forum hosted by the Prince George Safe Water Coalition this afternoon to debate the issue of drinking water fluoridation.
Coalition Founder, Marilyn Judd, wants fluoride removed from the drinking water in Prince George and to that end, invited Dr. James Beck to the city to speak at today’s forum at CNC, and to go before city council tomorrow evening.
Dr. Beck is the author of, “The Case Against Fluoride.” He’s a medical doctor and biophysicist who was asked to delve into the issue in Calgary a decade ago, while a prof at U of C.
In introducing Beck, forum moderator, Dave Fuller, outlined the situation in Prince George, where back in 1998, city council received an exemption from the provincial government to introduce fluoride into several new areas in the city without the required referendum.
Dr. Beck said, “The issue of fluoridation is really multi-faceted and when you bunch it all together and say, ‘Should we have fluoridation or not?’, it’s kind of overwhelming.”
To manage it more easily, he divided it into three issues: Is it effective? Is it safe? Is it ethical? Dr. Beck read and evaluated numerous research papers to draw his conclusions, “So I’m not basing what I tell you on personal clinical experience, but I’m basing it on 10 or 11-years of study of the scientific literature on fluoridation.”
The biophysicist detailed a number of studies showing little or no difference in tooth decay between jurisdictions with fluoridated water and those without. He said one of the better studies of 39-thousand children in 84 communities showed a minimal difference of (.6 of one tooth surface) less decay with fluoridation. But he pointed out that, when weighed against research showing the known and possible harmful health effects associated with fluoride, that minimal benefit was not worth it.
Local dentist, Dr. Richard Wilczek, was in attendance at the forum and said, after 30-years of practising in the city, he seen the difference fluoride makes in preventing dental caries in children. He said we live in a society where general measures taken for the overall wellbeing of all are acceptable. Many in attendance disagreed. Werner Kesseling said, “I’m concerned that I have less rights than people who demand fluoride in the water – I demand water without fluoride.”
Dr. Beck said this is where the medical ethics issue comes into play, about imposing a substance on people without the option to cease taking it, to control the dosage or monitor the effects on individuals. He said often a compelling point in the fluoridation debate is that it’s necessary for the children of low-income families who can’t afford dental or proper nutrition, but pointed out what a few in the room raised, that when the City of Calgary voted by a 13-to-2 margin to remove fluoride from the drinking water, it also passed an amendment to take the money spent on that system and put it into dental education programs.
Northern Health declined an invitation to send a representative to the forum, but in a position statement submitted by Medical Health Officer, Dr. David Bowering, he wrote that, “Water fluoridation provides a fair way to ensure that everyone is protected, regardless of income, education and financial ability to seek dental care. People benefitting the most from water fluoridation are those most susceptible to tooth decay – typically, these are the poorest and most disadvantaged members of our community.”