ALBERTA

To fluoridate or not:Red Deer city council to decide whether to keep it in water

09/12/2012 07:46 EDT | Updated 11/12/2012 05:12 EST
RED DEER, Alta. - City council in Red Deer, Alta., will decide next month whether to reduce, increase or eliminate fluoride in drinking water.

Or it may allow residents to decide the issue in a plebiscite next year.

Earlier this week, the two sides of the fluoridated water debate was argued before city council decides on Oct. 29.

James Beck, a professor of medical biophysics at the University of Calgary, said fluoride is ineffective in fighting cavities, unsafe and unethical.

He discounted studies that showed fluoride prevents cavities and not harmful to health.

Dr. Digby Horne, chief medical officer of health for the Central Zone, argued that water fluoridation is a safe and cost-effective method of reducing dental caries or cavities.

Horne said the cavities are an important health issue and there is no better alternative to fluoride.

“At this point several reviews have looked at potential health concerns,” said Horne. “There’s nothing definite. They are saying nothing definite at this time. There’s no negative health affects that we are aware of at this time.”

Dentist Jo Scalzo has practised in Red Deer for 31 years and she says she has seen a drastic increase in the number of tooth decay in her patients because of the consumption of pop, juices and sugary drinks.

“I think they are not looking realistically at what will happen here if they take fluoride out. What will we see if there’s no fluoride if there’s no protection? It’s going to be devastating.”

Fluoridation of Red Deer’s public water supply was mandated by a plebiscite that was held in the 1950s. The water treatment plant is legally required to continue this practice until administration is directed by council to apply for an amendment to the province.

Earlier this year the city reduced the amount of fluoride to 0.7 milligrams per litre from 0.8 milligrams, in keeping with the latest Health Canada recommendations.

The city supplies water to more than 145,000 customers.

MORE:Albertacp