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Fluoridation in drinking water brings risks, few benefits

Martin Mittelstaedt of the Globe and Mail reports today that, “When it comes to fluoridating drinking water, Ontario and Quebec couldn’t be further apart. Ontario has the country’s highest rate of adding the tooth-enamel-strengthening chemical into municipal supplies, while Quebec has one of the lowest, with practically no one drinking fluoridated water.”

“More than three-quarters of Ontario residents live in areas where municipal water supplies contain the chemical. In Quebec, 94 per cent have water free of the additive, according to figures published by Health Canada in 2007. Since then, Quebec City has voted to stop fluoridating, indicating that the difference between the two provinces is currently even more pronounced.”

“But surprisingly, the two provinces have very little difference in tooth-decay rates, a finding that is likely to intensify the ongoing controversy over the practice of adding fluoride to water as a public health measure.”

Hardy Limeback, the head of the preventive dentistry program at the University of Toronto, says, “Fluoridation is no longer effective (and adding the chemical to water is) more harmful than beneficial.”

“A number of medical journal studies have linked exposure to altered thyroid function, and to reduced IQ levels in children, although the intellectual impairments were found at levels of the chemical in water well above those used for municipal supplies. The most worrisome study, by Harvard researchers, appeared in 2006 in the journal Cancer Causes and Control and found that boys aged 7 exposed to high levels of fluoridated water were about four times more likely to develop childhood osteosarcoma. It’s a rare bone cancer that felled Canadian icon Terry Fox and almost always leads to amputations.”

Fluoridation is primarily done in Canada, the United States and Australia, but almost nowhere else in the world. Western Europe and Japan have almost no fluoridated water supplies.

For a list of countries around the world that have banned the fluoridation of drinking water, go to http://www.actionpa.org/fluoride/countries.pdf.

“13.5 million Canadians, or about 43 per cent of the population, live in communities with fluoridated tap water.” Less than 4 per cent of the drinking water in British Columbia has been fluoridated.

We have taken the position that there are environmental and health concerns associated with the fluoridation of drinking water, and that this is an issue best decided through public consultation and debate at the local level.

The Globe and Mail article notes, “Many community groups have sprung up across Canada lobbying to stop the practice, which is subject to repeal by local referendums.”

The Council is also working with Eau Secours in Quebec which is opposing the Charest government’s plans to increase the fluoridation of drinking water there from about 3 per cent to 50 per cent.

Additionally, for talking points on why the movement to ban bottled water is not at odds with opposition to fluoride in drinking water, please go to http://canadians.org/water/issues/Unbottle_It/fluoride.html.