It’s a little known fact that Tilbury and Wheatley’s municipal drinking water supply does not contain any fluoride.
That information was revealed Wednesday when a study on oral health was presented to the Chatham-Kent Board of Health and when many around the table remarked that the lack of fluoride was news to them.
The Municipality of Chatham-Kent also does not add the chemicals to the drinking water in Ridgetown and Highgate, but that’s because the ground water sources for those communities has naturally-occurring fluoride.
The Wheatley water treatment plant, which also supplies Tilbury, did not have the fluoride treatment process when it was built, said Tim Sunderland, general manager of the Chatham-Kent Public Utilities Commission.
“It was never part of the certificate of approval for those facilities and we never added that treatment process with that facility in Wheatley,” he said.
Even Coun. Bryon Fluker, who has represented Tilbury on Chatham-Kent council since amalgamation, said he learned about his area’s fluoridation status earlier this week.
He said the former Town of Tilbury, of which he was a councillor from 1972 to the 1998 amalgamation, had fluoride added because the drinking water was not coming from a Wheatley treatment centre.
“It will not be, I’m sure, with many of the citizens a major issue,” he said. “Some citizens who do not like any added chemicals in the water of any kind, it will probably please them to know for sure that they’ve been drinking non-fluoridated water for many, many, many years.”
Fluker, who is also a commissioner for the PUC, said he has no intention of starting a discussion on this issue at future meetings.
But Coun. Joe Faas, the chair of the board of health, said during Wednesday’s meeting he would like to see the PUC look into fluoridating the water in the western part of the municipality.
“I think it’s something we should be pushing to PUC maybe to see to update because it’s an important factor … and that’s quite an area that’s not covered,” he said.
The report on oral health did not provide information based on geographical location within the municipality, but its author said she would like to take a look at that detail level.
Laura Zettler said the Association of Local Public Health Associations has passed resolutions about the benefits of fluoridation.
“It is known to be a really efficient and effective way to kind of level the playing field for everybody,” said the epidemiologist with the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit.
“That’s one of those social pieces that can impact everybody and really, in terms of health equity, try and reduce some of those disparities in the community that we see.”
Zettler acknowledged such a study may be difficult as many residents in the municipality use private wells as their water supply where the fluoride levels are not known.
The oral health study found 56.4 per cent of Chatham-Kent adults support public drinking water fluoridation. The remainder was essentially split between those who do not support and those who didn’t know or didn’t want to answer.
*Original article online at http://www.chathamdailynews.ca/2017/10/19/long-time-councillor-fluker-just-learned-of-status-this-week