Fluoride debate takes center stage in Fort St. John

On the evening of Nov. 2, the Lido Theatre hosted a water fluoridation information session, where Dr. Arthur Conn, the Assistant Chief Dental Officer for Health Canada spoke in favour of the fluoridating process and arguing against was Dr. James Beck, from the University of Calgary.

Dr. Conn states that after extensive scientific reviews by Health Canada, the mineral is safe for ingestion within regulated levels. The fluoridation of water is widely supported by many organizations, such as the Canadian and American Dental Associations, World Health Organization and the Canadian Public Health Society.

He argues it’s a cost effective public health measure in preventing the decay of enamel. Conn says that for every dollar someone spends on water fluoridation, they would spend $38 in dental bills to receive the same benefits.  Fluoride promotes the re-mineralization of the enamel, meaning it promotes the regeneration of tooth structure as well as it can prevent Dental Fluorosis, the slight discoloration of teeth.   

According to Dr. Conn, all the facts he presented can be backed up by scientific data, and every professional experience he has encountered has seen fluoridation as a “tremendous good” and a “common good within communities.”       

After Dr. Conn wrapped up his portion of the presentation, Dr. James Beck, Professor Emeritus of Medical Biophysics from the University of Calgary and author of the book “The Case Against Fluoride” took to the stage to discuss the ill effects of water fluoridation.

Beck began by discussing enamel health and decay, saying that socio-economic factors play a much larger contributing role in the health of teeth, and says its never been definitively proven that fluoride prevents cavities. He cited a study which showed the examination of 38,000 children, which found very little benefits, and showed that lower average income leads to poorer health of teeth.

Dr. Beck claims fluoride has never properly been tested for safety risks, and the toxicological risks have never been properly confirmed. He lists the known harms that constant exposure can cause as damage to bones, thyroid systems, the brain and cardiovascular systems, to name a few. He also says Osteosarcoma, cancer of the bones, could result from exposure to high concentrations of fluoride at a young age.

Dr. Beck argues that although the concentration of fluoride is regulated, those who drink more water on average, such as athletes and trade workers, are at a higher risk.

Beck claims that calcium fluoride, the natural mineral found in the earth’s crust, is not what is being put in our water. Rather, it’s a substance known as Hexafluoric acid, a hazardous chemical often added to our water supply in regulated amounts. He believes, "it’s unethical to approve an uncontrolled, untested substance without properly monitoring the results."

Beck finished by stating that fluoride is most beneficial when applied topically, and not beneficial to humans who ingest it, as 50 per cent of it gets absorbed into the body and as a result does not compete its intended job.

Following both presentations, the floor was opened to those in attendance to question either Dr. Conn or Dr. Beck. Roughly a dozen people asked questions, which prompted discussions regarding research into the removal of fluoride, the cost to re-fluoridate water if it’s removed and if our bodies absorb fluoride during baths or showers, just to name a few.

Voting on the removal of fluoride within Fort St. John’s water supply will take place November 19.

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About Erica Fisher 4010 Articles

Erica is a reporter for Moose FM and energeticcity.ca in Fort St. John, B.C. She grew up in Victoria, B.C. and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec.