Fluoride Madness Strikes Gatineau and the Ottawa Citizen
Currently, the city of Gatineau (Ottawa’s French sister city) is planning on fluoridating their water. Hundreds of cities across North America add fluoride to their water system to safely strengthen the tooth enamel of their citizens. Ever since it was first announced that a city would be adding a ‘chemical’ to a city’s water supply, there have been huge outcries from dedicated anti-fluoride zealots. Typing ‘[[fluoride]]’ into Google provides a near endless list of websites dedicated to the spreading of FUD about fluoride.
In today’s issue of the Ottawa Citizen, a letter was published in the City section that makes various claims that are misleading, and can be considered outright lies. I’ll analyze each claim one at a time:
“Niagara Regional Council just rejected the motion to fluoridate the Niagara peninsula on Jan. 24. The vote was 14 to 9.”
That is irrelevant. All that says is that the anti-fluoride campaign of fear was successful in another municipality. It does not say anything about the factual safety of fluoridation. I have not even bothered to check to see if that was true.
“This HFSA is industrial waste taken from the scrubbers of the smokestacks of the phosphate fertilizer plants.”
I cannot confirm whether or not this assertion is true, but I can say that it is irrelevant. The source of a chemical has no bearing on its safety. All that is relevant is the properties of a given chemical, and the amount of exposure to that chemical. It’s important to keep in mind that water is also a waste product from many forms of manufacturing, and is safely recycled into the water system.
“It is contaminated with lead and arsenic”
This is also irrelevant. The water filtration systems already automatically detect dangerous levels of harmful substances such as lead and arsenic. If dangerous levels of arsenic or lead was added to the water system, an alarm would go off and the engineers running the system would handle the problem.
“It is not a naturally occurring compound”
Again! Another irrelevant claim. This is an ‘[[Appeal to Nature]]’ logical fallacy. Whether or not a compound can be found in nature has no bearing on its safety. Remember that arsenic and lead (previously mentioned) are in fact naturally occurring and known to dangerous at low levels.
“According to Scientific American, January 2008, there are concerns about a link between fluoride levels used in drinking water and the risks of health problems.”
The Scientific American article was about the NRC study published in 2006 that clearly stated “The report addresses the safety of high levels of fluoride in water that occur naturally, and does not question the use of lower levels of fluoride to prevent tooth decay.”
It is wrong to draw any conclusion from the study on anything but the effects of high levels of fluoride (higher than what would be added by a municipality) that occur in some regions.
“Fluoride also suppresses the thyroid gland and the incidences of hypothyroidism and thyroid cancer have been increasing dramatically over the last decade.”
It is a huge claim to assert that fluoride in drinking water is the cause of an increase in thyroid cancer and hypothyroidism. Unfortunately, the current scientific evidence does not support this link. The amount of fluoride ingested from a city’s water system is quite small. Ill effects attributable to the exposure of fluoride only pertains to people who work with industrial levels of fluoride. Any chemical can be harmful, if given enough exposure. This includes oxygen and water too.
Whatever decision the Gatineau municipality makes, we hope that it is based on proper scientific evidence, as opposed to irrational fear mongering.
More resources about the age old fluoridation controversy: