Chemical cocktail or healthy additive? Sarnia city council is divided over fluoride.
Three of seven councillors contacted by The Observer said they favour removing the cavity-fighting chemical from drinking water, three support its e, and one was undecided.
Two other councillors couldn’t be reached for comment.
The previous city council waged a lively debate over fluoride three years ago, with Mayor Mike Bradley breaking a tie vote in support of its e.
It’s a polarizing issues, said Coun. Mike Kelch, who believes tap water should be fluoride-free.
“I don’t understood the emotion behind it,” he said. “It’s a fairly clinical thing to me. You deliver the best water that you can . . . We’re mixing a little bit of a cocktail for people here. It’s above and beyond our responsibility, and our right.”
Member municipalities in the Lambton Area Water Supply System (LAWSS) could also save money by discontinuing use of the additive, Kelch said.
Fluoride has long stirred politicians, said Bradley, who noted opponents in the 1960s argued it was part of a communist plot to control the population.
Any decision “should be based on science and health. It should not be based on politics,” Bradley said.
He is in favour of reviewing the Health Canada study released earlier this week that reopened the debate.
Point Edward Mayor Dick Kirkland said he will ask LAWSS to remove fluoride from the water system that supplies his community, Sarnia, Plympton-Wyoming, Alvinston, St. Clair Township, Warwick and parts of Lambton Shores.
To limit infant exposure, the study says, the optimal target of a water system should be 0.7 milligrams per litre. The local system has added fluoride at that level for 10 years, said Coun. Terry Burrell, who supports its use.
Burrell was raised without fluoride in his drinking water and compares his dental health to that of his children, who had its benefits growing up.
They had fewer dental problems, and that anecdotal evidence combined with the scientific data is convincing, said Burrell, who chairs the city’s water committee.
Coun. Andy Bruziewicz, who wants fluoride removed, worries about its health impact. He wanted council to explore the issue more thoroughly in 2005.
“I’m not surprised the issue has come back,” he said. “I’m still not in favour. My position hasn’t changed one little bit.”
Coun. Anne Marie Gillis said fluoride is unnecessary, while Coun. Dave Boushy wants it scaled back but not eliminated.
Coun. Jon McEachran said he would review the evidence before making a decision.
Councillors Jim Foubister and Bev MacDougall were unavailable for comment.
In 2005, Foubister voted with the slim majority to retain fluoride, while MacDougall voted against.
The issue will be discussed at the Aug. 13 meeting of LAWSS.