Montreal has announced that fluoridated potable water will no longer be supplied to Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue and Senneville.
Montreal officials announced tap water being supplied to Ste-Anne and Senneville will now come via the water filtration plant in Pierrefonds, which recently underwent a $90-million upgrade and expansion. Montreal, which manages four of the six treatment plants on the island, does not add fluoride to tap water.
Pointe-Claire’s filtration plant produces fluoridated water and had been serving all of Ste-Anne-de Bellevue for about two years and about 70 per cent of Senneville homes located south of Highway 40.
Philippe Sabourin, a communications officer for Montreal’s water management department, said a plant in Ste-Anne had served the town and neighbouring Senneville until it was shutdown in 2011 and that it did not offer fluoridated water. He added the supply coming from Pointe-Claire was meant as a temporary measure until a new pipeline from the upgraded Pierrefonds plant was completed.
“It is, therefore, the restoration of the situation prior to the closure of the plant in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue,” Sabourin stated.
There has been local mixed reaction to the fluoride debate. The treatment plants in Dorval and Pointe-Claire, which also serves several other West Island municipalities, both produce fluoridated tap water.
Prior to the Nov. 3 election, the previous Senneville town council unanimously adopted a resolution to denounce the switch in the water supply for its residents living south of Highway 40, stating it has been proven that fluoridating poses no health risks while it improves the dental health of children. New Mayor Jane Guest said she agrees with the resolution.
Dr. Paul Van Wijlen, a veteran dentist in Ste-Anne village, said fluoridated tap water is a reliable measure to prevent cavities in children, adding that even adults benefit from it.
“There’s a huge difference in the amount of decay we see. Twenty to 40 per cent, studies have shown, of less decay activity in children in fluoridated communities – and that’s even with all the other preventative fluoride stuff that everyone uses,” he said, adding residents given fluoridated water by Dorval and Pointe-Claire are the “lucky ones.”
Van Wijlen said it is a pity Ste-Anne and Senneville residents are losing fluoridated tap water. He also dismissed health concerns against the measure, which has been used in parts of North America for decades.
“If something bad was associated with it, it would have been proven by now,” he said. “It’s the most cost effective way and it’s been proven safe after exhaustive studies, despite all what the anti-fluoridationists maintain.”
Ste-Anne town councillor Ryan Young, however, isn’t upset his town will no longer be supplied with fluoridated water, citing both health and environmental factors to his opposition. He points out that Toronto, which has fluoridated tap water, has reportedly higher cavity rates than Vancouver, which doesn’t have fluoride.
Young mentioned that during the recent election campaign, a resident told him that he was upset to learn Ste. Anne was being supplied with fluoridated water from Pointe-Claire.
The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment has come out against adding fluoride to water, Young said.
“These are doctors that are a little more conscientiousness of the impact on things like the effect of pesticides on human health,” he said, adding concerns have been raised about the fluoride that makes it way back into the waterways.
Meanwhile, Dorval Mayor Edgar Rouleau said despite a pending transfer of management control of its treatment facility to Montreal in January, the Dorval plant will continue to offer fluoride.
The idea of fluoridating water has been a contentious issue for years, though Health Canada, various dental associations and the World Health Organization support the measure.
In Quebec, only about six per cent of the population is supplied with fluoridated water compared with a national average of 45 per cent based on 2007 estimates, according to a report released by the Canadian Dental Association in 2009.
Several Canadian cities, including Calgary and Windsor, recently pulled the plug on fluoridating water, as did Quebec City in 2008.