Calgary city council mulls fluoride debate

Jan. 6, 2011 at 3:43 PM
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CALGARY, Alberta, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- A motion to remove fluoride from Calgary, Alberta's drinking water can't be decided by a vote of the city council, Calgary's mayor says.

Alderman Druh Farrell of the city's Ward 7 has said she will introduce a motion next week the pull the chemical from the municipal drinking water supply, Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Thursday.

However, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says removing fluoride from the city's water supply is not as simple as a council vote.

Since fluoride, intended to reduce tooth decay, was added following a plebiscite in 1989, Nenshi said there must be public input before that decision can be reversed.

"We really do need to engage the public and scientific experts on this more extensively than it would seem (is done with) this notice of motion coming before council on Monday," Nenshi said.

Farrell agreed public consultation is essential, saying it's important to open up the debate again.

In a 2008 report to Health Canada, a panel said fluoride levels in drinking water need to be limited to balance cavity protection with the risk of dental fluorosis, which can lead to staining or pitting of teeth if too much fluoride is ingested.

"Can fluoride be made available in a different way? Fluoride is readily available in toothbrushes and mouthwashes, (and) that's a new phenomenon," Farrell said.

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