Great fluoride debate

Little else gets people as wound up as the debate over fluoride in the City’s drinking water. Those on both sides of the issue have plenty of information onhand to provide their case, which leaves many wondering what indeed is the best direction for the City to take in this matter.

Fluoride has long been used as a preventative measure against tooth decay, and overall oral health. Many dentists are in favour of the practice as are many government departments of health. But there have always been those who insist that there are too many risks involved with swallowing fluoride to human health.

Next week, City council will debate the fluoride issue and the options of what to do about it — to eliminate it, keep it or reduce the amount of fluoride in the local water supply or put the question to the public in the form of a plebiscite during the 2013 municipal election.

Red Deer started fluoridating its water in about 1957 after a plebiscite in favour of the move. The City currently spends about $60,000 a year to add the controversial chemical to City water. Right now, the City adds fluoride to its water supply in a concentration of less than 0.7 mg/L per the guidelines set out by Health Canada. The City is legally required to continue this practice until administration is directed, by City council, to apply for an amendment to its operating approval.

Ultimately, it really should be up to the public as to whether they wish to ingest fluoride every time they take a drink of water.

We think there has been enough public discussion that leans towards removing fluoride, so we believe that’s the way council should base its decision as well.

A plebiscite would also work to bring an end to this issue once and for all. But these days, the mood seems to be pointing towards getting rid of it.

One only has to look around the world to see the common trend towards fluoride removal from water – Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, and Japan are some of the countries that put a stop to the practice years ago. Obviously these countries aren’t stuck in the middle ages in terms of their knowledge about this practice. It really causes one to think that there is likely much more to the issue than what common knowledge may provide.

After all, if people want more fluoride to ward off cavities, they can simply brush their teeth or use their favourite mouthwash.

If they don’t want to have it in their drinking water, they shouldn’t have to always avoid the tap and buy bottled water in their own community to avoid it.

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