New Brunswick

Moncton phasing fluoride out of water

Moncton started phasing fluoride out of its water supply in December, a process that will take another six weeks.

Traces of fluoride will remain in water for another 6 weeks

Moncton is in the process of phasing fluoride out of its water supply after the city voted in December to take the element out of the system during a five-year pilot project.

The city endured a contentious debate last year that ended with Moncton council voting 7 to 4 to remove fluoride from the water supply.

That decision came after Dieppe voted to remove fluoride from the water supply and Riverview voted to keep it.

Moncton broke the deadlock between the communities.

Paul Thomson, the communications director for Moncton, said traces of fluoride will be in the water system for a few more weeks.

"The phase-out program began immediately after council made the decision and it should be out within four to six weeks," Thomson said.

Thomson said the process has to be done slowly so it does not affect the overall chemical balance in the water supply.

Request for study denied

When Moncton council approved the decision to remove fluoride from the water supply for five years, it came with a special request.

The municipal politicians want the Department of Health or the New Brunswick Dental Society to study the impact of removing the fluoride.

But both the provincial government and the dental society have already declined the city’s request.

"The Department of Health at this point doesn't really have any plans to conduct any further studies on this issue," said Dr. Yves Leger, the public health officer for southeastern New Brunswick.

Moncton’s communications director said Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc will send a formal request to both organizations to ask for the study.

But Thomson said he's not sure what will happen next.

"That'll be something that council will have to deliberate on I guess going forward if these organizations say no," he said.

"Our council was pretty clear … in terms of, we don't have the expertise here for those kind of things."

The city will save about a $100,000 a year by cutting out fluoride.

Those who favour fluoride in water supplies say it has done wonders for reducing the number of cavities in children. Those who oppose it say it is dangerous and an invasion of rights.

A Moncton group began calling for fluoride to be removed from the water supply in June 2011. After that request, Moncton councillors began holding public meetings on the contentious issue.