[Note from FAN: The use of the adjective “slight” in the headline is disingenuous. The optimal level of fluoride in fluoridation schemes in Ontario is 0.7 milligrams per litre (mg/L). The levels reported below are significantly higher than this.]
The Township of Huron-Kinloss water systems are reporting elevated levels of naturally-occurring fluoride, which can have an affect on dental health.
Director of Public Works Hugh Nichol said the township has to report on the findings, which have been known for years, after testing is done every five years.
Nichol said he hasn’t been told by Grey Bruce Public Health if the slight change will make a difference to the public, as the wells are regularly above the recommended fluoride amounts, which is 1.5 mg/L.
“Some are up this year, but I’m not sure if it means a lot,” Nichol said. “Each one is up a small decimal point.”
The Lakeshore Drinking Water Systems of Blair’s Grove (2.20 mg/L), Huronville South (2.24 mg/L), Murdoch Glen (2.14 mg/L), and Point Clark (2.20 mg/L) currently have the highest levels, while the Ripley Well Drinking Water System for Wells #1 & 2 combined is 2.10 mg/L. Lucknow’s Drinking Water System is listed as Lucknow Well #4 (1.75 mg/L) and Lucknow Well #5 (1.78 mg/L). Ripley Drinking Water System – Wells #1 & 2 combined – 2.10 mg/.
The Whitechurch Drinking Water System is not impacted by the issue, according to Nichol.
Nichol said some drinking water systems add fluoride to their water, but Huron-Kinloss wells have never had to. He said he’s heard the historical stories about the positive impacts of the well-water on the dental health of locals, but said the health unit requires reporting about 1.5 mg/L due to the possibility of dental fluorosis in young people, from consuming too much of the naturally occurring mineral.
According to the Grey Bruce Health Unit fact sheet, fluoride concentrations in drinking water higher than 2 mg/L may cause dental fluorosis in children, depending on the concentration, amount of water consumed and supplemental fluoride ingested (ie. toothpaste, rinses, etc.).
Research has shown that in order for permanent teeth to be affected the excess consumption of fluoride must occur when children are between two and three years of age.
“Mild forms of fluorosis are characterized by small white patches on the teeth,” the fact sheet reads. “Moderate forms may involve brown patches and minute pitting of enamel. Severe forms of dental fluorosis are characterized by widespread deep brown or black stains and by excessive pitting.”
In order to reduce the potential for dental fluorosis where fluoride concentrations exceed 2.4 mg/L, children under five years of age should drink water from another source which has been tested for fluoride concentration, the health unit recommends.
“Alternatively, they may drink the water following treatment by reverse osmosis filtration,” it reads. “Fluoride is removed from drinking water by reverse osmosis filtration. These filter systems are available commercially and may be installed to the cold water supply under the kitchen sink. Since this treatment removes the fluoride all household members should use fluoridated toothpaste.”
The Health Unit says combined fluoride/vitamin preparations or other fluoride supplements should never be used without consultation with your family dentist. Parents should supervise children’s brushing to prevent them from swallowing excessive amounts of fluoridated toothpaste.
Individuals with private supplies may contact their area public health inspector for further information on fluoride testing in drinking water, which is available at Kincardine Hospital.
For more information visit publichealthgreybruce.on.ca or call 1-800-263-3456.