New Brunswick

Riverview calls on Ottawa to study fluoride in drinking water

Riverview town council is following Dieppe's lead, and calling on the federal government to complete a comprehensive study on water fluoridation.

Riverview following the lead of Dieppe as municipalities struggle with question of water fluoridation

The city is extending the moratorium on drinking water in Mocnton, Riverview and Dieppe. It voted to keep the 'status quo.' (Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images)

Riverview town council is following Dieppe's lead, and calling on the federal government to do a comprehensive study on water fluoridation.

Both Riverview and Dieppe purchase their water from the City of Moncton, which removed fluoride five years ago.

It's been a controversial decision, and dentists in the area are now calling for a return to fluoridated water. 

Moncton council is expected to vote Monday on whether to continue the moratorium on fluoride.

Riverview Mayor Ann Seamans said the decision rests with the City of Moncton, but her council is asking for a study by Ottawa to give municipalities some direction.

​"It is a concern for some people, so we are asking for the study so that we would actually know the pros and cons of putting fluoride in the water," she told Information Morning Moncton.

Moncton sought study 

In 2007, Health Canada assembled experts to investigate the health effects of fluoride in drinking water. The panel reported the next year that below a specific concentration, there was a "suitable tradeoff" between the dental health benefits of fewer cavities and the risk of dental fluorosis, a condition that appears as mottled enamel.

But the prevalence of mild and very mild fluorosis was not a concern from a health perspective, the panel said.

The panel didn't find evidence of a link between fluoride and other issues, such as cancer, intelligence, bone fracture immunotoxicity, reproductive and developmental toxicity, genotoxicity and neurotoxicity.

Riverview Mayor Ann Seamans wants all municipalities in New Brunswick to ask the federal Deptartment of Health to do a comprehensive study of water fluoridation. (CBC)

Three years later, when Moncton was about to phase out fluoride from the water supply, the city asked the provincial Health Department to complete a study of its own on water fluoridation.

At the time, the province refused and said, "the benefits of fluoridation are well-documented for all individuals in the community regardless of age, education, or socioeconomic status."

Whether to fluoridate water in Canada is left to municipalities.

Sees both sides

Seamans, the Riverview mayor, said she has heard from people on both sides of the fluoride debate, and their arguments "sounded great."

"You can have all the studies you want and you can look at both sides, but we do not have the expertise as a municipal government to make that decision," she said.

Seamans said Riverview will accept whatever decision Moncton council makes on Monday, but she urged other New Brunswick municipalities to join the call for a federal study that would look at both the positive and negative aspects of fluoridation. 

The Department of Health said in an email Wednesday that current science has found fluoridation safe, and its benefits for dental health are well-documented.

"The  Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada strongly support water fluoridation as a safe and cost-effective public health measure to prevent dental decay," the email said.

With files from Information Morning Moncton