May 04, 2011

Region of Peel Reaffirms Support for Fluoridation of Drinking Water

Municipality cites benefits of cavity protection for lower income residents

The Regional Council for the region of Peel, ON, Canada, reaffirmed its 40-plus-year commitment to the reduction of tooth decay and disease by continuing to provide fluoride through municipally provided drinking water.

“Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease and it’s highly preventable,” said Dr. David Mowat, medical officer of health for the region of Peel. “Fluoridated water helps reduce cavities by strengthening tooth enamel and making it more resistant to decay. It also helps stop the progression of decay in its early stages. Most importantly, it provides protection against cavities for all residents, particularly those who cannot afford preventive dental care.”

Water fluoridation has been well studied to weigh both its benefits and potential health risks. Health Canada recently completed its review of health effects associated with fluoride in drinking water, and found there is no link between the levels of fluoride in drinking water and health problems like cancer, gene mutation or reduced bone density or intelligence levels.

Peel’s treated water supply is regularly monitored and meets all of the requirements of Ontario’s Safe Drinking Water Act to protect human health, the municipality reported. Fluoride levels in Peel are maintained within the act’s recommended standards of 0.5 to 0.8 mg/L, well below Health Canada’s maximum acceptable concentration of 1.5 mg/L.

According to the municipality, the Peel community is particularly vulnerable to dental disease. Compared to Ontario, Peel has a higher proportion of children and immigrants, and both of these groups have a relatively high rate of tooth decay.

“In Peel, school-aged children, recent immigrants and seniors are more likely to need dental treatment but are the least likely to get the care due to cost,” said Regional Councilor Elaine Moore, chair of the Health Services Committee. “Water fluoridation is the most effective, equitable and economical way to protect the dental health of our residents. We are proud that we can provide such a significant health protection to our residents for less than half the cost of a cup of coffee per person every year.”

The cost to fluoridate Peel’s municipal water supply is $400,000 per year. In comparison, it would cost taxpayers an estimated $7.2 million to provide fluoride to the community through individual topical application.