Simcoe and Delhi residents will continue to get fluoride through their drinking water.
After three hours of discussion, council members unanimously voted to continue to provide fluoridated water to Simcoe, Delhi and Courtland.
The decision is contrary to a vote in November, where council voted 6-2 to remove fluoride from municipal water systems. That decision was deferred in anticipation of last night’s staff report from the Health Unit.
The report recommended staff continue to fluoridate the water in Simcoe and Delhi after citing numerous reports and papers claiming positive health effects.
Peter Van Caulart with the Environmental Training Institute disagreed with the report, poking holes in the staff report and citing numerous reports, papers and medical professionals stating there is no scientific proof that fluoride is effective and he says the substance is toxic.
“Fluoride sits between lead and arsenic on the toxicity scale,” he told council. “We don’t put lead in our water, why are we putting this back in?”
Judging by the extensive debate, which occurred not only in council chambers but has been occurring across the world between various health officials, experts and organizations, there is not a black and white answer as to whether or not there is more benefit than harm to adding fluoride to drinking water.
With local dentists in attendance and with councillors drinking from tap water, councillors heard from both sides of the issue and entertained two additional deputations in an effort to get a clearer picture on the harms and benefits of fluoride.
Councillors also passed a motion for Mayor Dennis Travale to write a letter to the Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Environment looking for leadership on the issue.
“There are clearly two very strong opposing views,” said Delhi Coun. Mike Columbus. “I wonder why if the message is not good — the Ministry of Environment or Ministry of Health — why are they not sending out the message? Maybe we start here and put forward a letter to the ministry to shake up and get some answers on the floor.”
Despite numerous citings from published medical papers citing fluoridation of water to be an effective and cost-saving way to protect people (especially children) from tooth decay, Waterloo resident Robert Fleming said there has been no scientific proof that fluoridating drinking water has any benefit. He also adds that there is in fact proof that the substance is toxic and detrimental to our health.
On the contrary, Waterford Dentist Dr. Dan Polos testified he’s noticed a significant amount of dental cavities in his patients here compared to Hamilton, a fluoridated water community.
“Now that’s not scientific, that’s just anecdotal,” he said, though he believes fluoridation is a positive. “If we start to go backwards, we risk the chance of increasing problems.”
He said it would be “foolish” for council to remove fluoride from the water.
Walsh Coun. Jim Oliver said he’d like an in-depth study to compare the rate of cavities in children in non-flouridated communities in Norfolk to fluoridated communities.
“Even if the Norfolk County dental community was prepared to share data, though anecdotal, that kind of information would nonetheless be informative to me,” Oliver said.
But Patti Moore, general manager of Health and Social Services, said the county just doesn’t have the resources to do such a study.
“As well, there are so many impacts on dental health that the statistics would be meaningless if fluoridated water has an impact on dental health,” Moore said.
Thought the status quo of fluoridating water in Simcoe, Delhi and Courtland will be maintained, the people may be the ultimate decision makers in the end.
Several councillors supported the idea of holding a referendum during the 2010 municipal elections.
But questions surrounding who would be able to vote on the issue — only those who are on a fluoridated system or everyone in the county — had councillors amend the motion to disclude the idea. The idea of a referendum on the issue could be revisited.