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drop-fullDear Editor;

Owen Sound voters have been confused by the conflicting claims of opposite sides of the water fluoridation debate, namely the Health Unit and the Fluoridation Free Owen Sound group. The Grey Bruce Health Unit spokesperson, Mr. Drew Ferguson, has criticized the concerns of the opposing group in letters to various media. There is an Alice in Wonderland flavour to his word usage. I will make quotes from his reference : Joint Government of Canada Response to the Petition to Discontinue Water Fluoridation, Mar. 2008

Is the fluoride additive hydrofluorosilicic acid toxic? Mr Ferguson quotes Health Canada's claim that "fluoridation additives certified for use in drinking water are not classified as hazardous waste in Canada (Government of Canada Response, page 2). The certification is done by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) International which is a private American group which does not accept liability for its certification. Mr. Ferguson does not quote Environment Canada's view that "hydrofluorosilicic acid ...is identified as a dangerous good under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations and has been classified as a Class 8 corrosive substance".(Government of Canada Response, page 2)

Whom do you believe: Health Canada or Environment Canada?

Mr. Ferguson claims that fluoride is an essential trace element. By definition an essential element is required for us to live and grow. We do not need fluoride to live and grow and "Health Canada does not consider fluoride as an essential nutrient" (Government of Canada Response, page 12). While fluoride can be considered beneficial because it fights tooth decay at the surface of teeth (topical and not swallowed) it is not essential.

Opponents of fluoridation feel that, since fluoride is added to the water to prevent tooth decay and since any substance given to humans to prevent or treat disease is a drug, fluoride is a drug .Health Canada tries to avoid this assertion by saying that fluoride is a mineral. They claim that "where minerals are added or where food is fortified with a mineral (e.g. iron in cereals ) , the food does not become a drug" (Government of Canada Response, page 10). Fluoride is not a mineral (such as copper, iron or zinc) by any definition, another misleading use of words.

Finally I would like to mention two things regarding infants and children.

1. It is accepted that the main action of fluoride in preventing tooth decays is its topical action on the tooth surfaces after the teeth have erupted. The incorporation of fluoride into the enamel of developing teeth of children before they have erupted is a minor effect and contributes to dental toxicity (dental fluorosis) where the teeth are mottled or stained white, yellow or brown. The Canadian Paediatric Society position paper on fluoride use in infants and children states that "Fluoride prevents caries mainly by its topical effect...Ingested fluoride, on the other hand, has little effect on caries, but contributes significantly to the development of fluorosis"(Godel 2002 Canadian Paediatric Society).

2. It is not safe to use fluoridated tap water to prepare infant formulas for infants 0-6 months of age. Owen Sound water contains 60-120 times the fluoride concentration in breast milk . The fluoride dose in infant formulas prepared with fluoridated tap water is at least 60 times the recommended adequate intake (AI) for infants 0-6 months (American Institute of Medicine).

Is fluoride toxic waste or not, essential or not, mineral or not? They are defending an obsolete system of preventing tooth decay. Fluoride works mainly on the tooth surfaces. We do not need to swallow it.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. David M. Ward, MD
Owen Sound


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