Every time you drink a little water in Caledon, you ingest a tiny amount of Fluorosilicic acid. It’s a chemical added to the drinking water supplied to as many as 45 per cent of Canadians as a simple method of preventing tooth decay. Dr. Eric Hoskins, Ontario’s Minister of Health, describes tooth decay as “the single most common chronic disease among Canadian children which can lead to a number of other health conditions including diabetes, heart disease, respiratory conditions, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and even low birth weight in babies.”
The American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes fluoridation of drinking water as “one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.” It’s endorsed by the World Health Organization, Health Canada and by thousands of scientific, dental and health experts and organizations around the world.
Yet, as has been the case since 1945, there are communities which refuse to add what the late, former CFRB broadcaster Gordon Sinclair branded as rat poison to their drinking water. In the last six years, scores of Canadian cities have stopped fluoride water treatment including Calgary, Waterloo and Windsor. The Region of Peel could be next. Brampton Councillor John Sprovieri is lobbying for a vote by the Peel Regional Council to end fluoridation of the water supply here.
For Sprovieri and like minded colleagues, it may be an uphill battle. All three Regional mayors, Caledon’s Allan Thompson, Brampton’s Lynda Jeffrey and Mississauga’s Bonnie Crombie support fluoridation. Crombie was quoted as saying, “removing fluoridation will widen the gap between the rich and poor. It is unacceptable and irresponsible to make life harder for our most vulnerable residents. The very families unable to afford ongoing dental care treatment will have their oral health at risk without fluoridation.”
It’s a never ending debate. One three day Internet exchange about fluoridated water last summer required more than 19,000 words and resolved nothing. That’s probably a good approximation of the number of words Gordon Sinclair used in his torrid denunciations of the issue beginning in the 1950’s. And, it’s not by coincidence that the debate has little changed in the intervening 60 years.
People, including members of a group known as Canadians Opposed to Fluoridation, argue the health risks of the process despite contrary evidence from dental research experts. Others claim their human rights are being infringed though no Canadian court as ever made that judgement. What you have, in essence, is a decades old dispute between a respected scientific community versus critics who’d pick most any scrap of evidence to legitimize their cause. The only new wrinkle seems to involve the impact of improved dental care with fluoride being added to tooth paste, promotion of better tooth brushing with better tooth brushes, flossing and improved dental hygiene education. But, it’s not clear those advances would offset the implications of ending fluoridation of municipal water supplies.
For the moment, however, the bottom line seems to be that credible scientific research continues to support the conclusion that water fluoridation is safe.
Health Canada’s Chief Dental Office, Dr. Peter Cooney, says “the big advantage of fluoridation is that it benefits all residents in a community, regardless of age, socioeconomic status, education or employment”
You’re left wondering what’s taken the Brampton councillor down his curious pathway.