The Windsor Utilities Commission voted in favour of recommending that the city stop water fluoridation for five years and redirect any money saved into oral hygiene and nutrition education.

“This (fluoridation policy) has been in place for 59 years. It deserves a review – a thorough review,” said Coun. Bill Marra, who stepped down from chairing the meeting in order to second Coun. Drew Dilkens’ motion at the WUC meeting Wednesday night.

“I’m prepared to have this debate at a full council meeting,” Marra said. “Clearly we’re not in a position to make a full decision. Council is.”

Four of the five commission members present voted in favour of the recommendation, with Coun. Ed Sleiman voting against the motion.

Residents, local dentists as well as Medical Officer of Health Dr. Alan Heimann made five-minute presentations to the WUC after which commission members posed questions.

After the vote, Dilkens, Marra and Heimann all said that many more questions were raised at the meeting than there were answers, so much more debate and research is needed.

“There is a lot of conflicting information that we need to work through,” Heimann said. “It’s going to be my job … to assist in the provision of this information.”

Dilkens said that much like learning that hand washing prevents colds, preventing tooth decay is ultimately a matter of personal hygiene that can be taught to children by their parents. It might not require fluoridating the water, especially when there is research to show that the industrial grade hydrofluorosilic acid used in tap water is derived from phosphate fertilizers rather than a natural source, he said.

Local dentists as well as Heimann told the commission that fluoridation remains an effective, equitable and economical way of preventing tooth decay.

On the other side of the debate a local nurse and members of the group Fluoride Free Windsor cited research showing fluoridated water has been linked to medical conditions such as thyroid problems and kidney stones. As well, there are no protections for wildlife exposed to fluoridated water.

Kim De Yong of Fluoride Free Windsor said she was pleased that the commission upheld its mandate to provide safe water. She said the group will work to provide the commission with the peer reviewed evidence which shows ingesting fluoride is not safe.

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