Most of the eight speakers at a public meeting Thursday at Sarnia city hall called for an end to the practice of adding fluoride to the local drinking water supply.
City council organized the meeting to gather public comments on the issue before councillors debate it Feb. 8.
Coun. Terry Burrell, Sarnia’s representative on the Lambton Area Water Supply System (LAWSS) Board, requested the city vote to aid his decision-making when the future of fluoride comes up for a vote by the LAWSS board.
“It’s such a broad issue I think it’s important to get council’s position, as opposed to just one councillor’s,” Burrell said.
The board, which Burrell recently became chairperson of, has been considering the issue for many months. The municipal councils of two of its members, Lambton Shores and Warwick Township, have passed motions asking the water system to stop adding of fluoride to tap water.
LAWSS also provides water to Sarnia, St. Clair Township, Plympton-Wyoming and Point Edward.
Burrell said following Monday’s meeting the board is currently working to hire a new manager.
“Once that’s in place, we’ll look again at the fluoride issue,” he said.
He said the LAWSS board members still hope to hold a public meeting on the issue that would include presentations by experts.
“I had hoped city council would do that same,” Burrell said, “but they decided to go with this format.”
The meeting lasted about one hour and attracted about 20 people to the council chambers in city hall, including several municipal councillors from Sarnia, Plympton- Wyoming and Point Edward.
Margaret Archibald, a former mayor of Chatham who now lives in Plympton-Wyoming, spoke about that community’s long debate over fluoride in drinking water, adding it “broke my heart” when its citizens finally voted to approve it. “There is no such thing as a safe amount of fluoride,” Archibald said, adding she has no doubt “fluoride is dangerous.”
She also said proponents of adding fluoride to drinking water have been “distorting the facts from the get-go.”
Allen Wells, a former director of education with the public school board in Sarnia-Lambton, was the only speaker at the meeting to defend the practice of adding fluoride to help protect teeth.
He said that “in 20 countries and 140 studies, the value of fluoridation has been supported,” adding, “every single dental and medical association in North American supports the idea.”
Nicole Kuzmanovich said her own daughter’s health has been impacted by fluoride and told the crowd, “Fluoride is not benign, it affects you.”
She questioned the arguments for adding fluoride saying, “This has been nothing but a pile of junk science.”
Agneta Czechowicz, a dental hygienist, said, “I know we are being over exposed to fluoride and that’s not a good thing.”
Many of the speakers argued it should be left to individuals to decide if they wish to have fluoride treatments, instead of it being added it to the municipal drinking water supply without their consent. “When we turn on our tap water, we have no choice,” Kuzmanovich said.
David Johnston, a member of Sarnia’s Environmental Advisory Committee, told the meeting that it had recommended in 2005 that Sarnia hold a plebiscite on the issue.