By Manisha Krishnan - Saturday, February 9, 2013 - 0 Comments
Windsor is the latest city to cave to anti-fluoride activists. And it won’t be the last.
It was an all too familiar scene. In late January, city councillors in Windsor, Ont., gathered to vote on whether or not to remove fluoride from the municipal water system. Health experts, including Canada’s chief dental officer, Peter Cooney, had descended on the town with stacks of evidence about the benefits of fluoridation as a harmless, cost-effective way to prevent tooth decay. Meanwhile a much more vocal, angrier crowd of activists railed against the decades-old health policy as paternalistic and dangerous. The debate raged into the night, but for those who have followed the mounting backlash against fluoride in Canada in recent years, the ending was all but guaranteed. And like that, Windsor’s local politicians became the latest to bow to pressure from the anti-fluoride lobby, voting to scrap the practice starting in April.
For scientists and health officials, the decision was a blow. “We’re not talking about a new subject here, this is a well-accepted public health intervention,” says Allen Heimann, the medical officer for Windsor-Essex County. But it could hardly have been unexpected. Since 2005, more than 30 communities have voted to do away with fluoridation, including Calgary, Waterloo, Ont., Slave Lake, Alta., and Quebec City. During this same period, the share of the Canadian population with access to fluoridated water has fallen to 32.5 per cent, down from 43 per cent, according to the Ontario-based Environmental Training Institute, which trains municipal waterworks operators across Canada. Continue…