CALGARY — A worldwide fluoride shortage could reignite a decades-old debate on whether the City of Calgary should keep adding the chemical to its water supply.
Civic officials have said they will know within two months if the global shortage will affect Calgary’s supply, as Ottawa goes without the cavity-fighting fluoride for extended periods and Edmonton officials warn they could run out this fall.
While Calgary still has enough, the potential shortage has some city council members suggesting it’s time to take another look at the issue.
“I’m a big believer that we don’t need it,” said Ald. Craig Burrows. “Quite frankly, I certainly support getting rid of fluoride in the water.”
Ald. Druh Farrell said she has also never been a supporter of fluoride.
“It’s always important to keep up-to-date on the issue,” she said last week. “I wouldn’t shy away from opening the debate again.”
Farrell said evidence shows hygiene and diet have more of an impact on dental health.
But other aldermen said there’s no need to revisit the issue.
“It’s a debate I do not want to get into,” said Ald. Gord Lowe. “As far as I am concerned, the decision from the last plebiscite was to continue putting fluoride in the water, and I haven’t seen anything to suggest that we stop doing that. We have our direction from the public.”
The City of Calgary started adding fluoride to its municipal water supply in 1991 after a plebiscite in the 1989 election saw 53 per cent of voters in favour of using the chemical.
Another plebiscite during the 1998 municipal election endorsed fluoridation by 55 per cent.
Calgary adds about 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per litre to its tap water.