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Peel Region considering removing fluoride from water supply

Last Updated Feb 18, 2016 at 3:04 pm EST

Mississauga, Brampton, and Caledon are all considering removing fluoride from the water supply despite medical advice to the contrary.

“The evidence is clear as to both its safety and its effectiveness,” the Ontario Minister of Health said Thursday.

“I’m a public health doctor. It’s one of the biggest public health advancements in the past hundred years,” Dr. Eric Hoskins added.

Fluoride keeps tooth decay at bay, especially for very young children. It’s also a factor for good overall oral health.

Mississauga, Brampton, and Caledon all fall under the Peel Regional council. The council has formed a committee to look at oral health in the region. The area had a similar debate five years ago, the Brampton Guardian reports, and at that time voted unanimously to continue fluoridation.

Brampton Coun. John Sprovieri is vice-chair of the recently established Oral Health in Peel committee and a vocal fluoridation critic. He says the committee will continue to gather research and council will re-vote on the issue sometime in the fall.

The City of Calgary stopped adding fluoride to its water supply in 2011. Five years later, a report found that Calgary children have more than twice as many cavities as their counterparts in Edmonton, where fluoridation continues.

Researchers have also found that Calgary kids have more health issues with their baby teeth than those in the provincial capital.

The report — published Wednesday in the journal Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology — shows the decision has had a negative impact on children’s dental health in Alberta’s largest city.

Fluorides protect tooth enamel against the acids that cause tooth decay, Health Canada says. The federal agency says the maximum acceptable concentration of fluoride is 1.5 milligrams per litre. Water containing fluoride at, or below, this maximum acceptable concentration does not pose a risk to human health.

Many studies have shown that fluoridated drinking water is a safe, effective and cost effective public health measure which significantly reduces the number of cavities in children’s teeth. Fluoride is used in many communities across Canada, spanning most provinces and territories. About 45 per cent of Canadians receive fluoridated water, Health Canada says.

However, it is up to municipal governments to implement fluoridation systems.

Opponents, meanwhile, question the benefit of fluoridated water, as fluoride is available in some foods. There are also some concerns over its side effects, such as fluorosis, or “streaking,” of teeth. Many countries in Europe don’t use fluoridated water.