March 2023 Board of Health Meeting - Letter re: Water Fluoridation Correspondence

Meeting Document Type
Letter re: Water Fluoridation

Board of Health
Windsor-Essex County Health Unit
c/o Lee Anne Damphouse

December 20, 2022

Dear Members of the WECHU Board of Health,

I am writing to you as a Windsor resident and a parent of two children. I know I am not alone in wanting to be confident that up to date peer-reviewed science is used to inform local public health policy.

Almost a year has passed since Windsor reintroduced fluoride to the municipal water supply. The page relating to fluoride on the WECHU website1 states that the optimal concentration of fluoride in drinking water to support good dental health is 0.7 mg/L and that Health Canada considers 1.5 ml/L to be the maximum acceptable concentration. It refers the reader to Health Canada for further information. Health Canada states:2

Since the 1940’s, researchers have been testing the safety and benefits of fluoride. Apart from dental fluorosis and skeletal fluorosis, there are no other health effects related to fluoride.

During pregnancy and breastfeeding: Fluoride is not harmful to a fetus or through breastfeeding.

When it comes to bottle-fed babies, the following advice appears lower down on the page:

If you live in an area with naturally occurring high levels of fluoride (higher than the guideline of 1.5 mg/L- the maximum acceptable concentration), we suggest you mix the formula with drinking water with a lower fluoride concentration level. (emphasis added)

I am concerned about the stated maximum acceptable threshold of 1.5 ml/L in this advice from WECHU and Health Canada.

The underlying reason for my concern is that the authors of the January 2020 study Fluoride exposure from infant formula and child IQ in a Canadian birth cohort3 found statistically significant reductions in IQ in formula fed infants, even when using “optimally fluoridated water” at a concentration of 0.7 mg/L:

Using optimally fluoridated water (0.7 mg/L) to reconstitute infant formula may diminish the development of intellectual abilities in young children, particularly for non-verbal abilities. The findings also suggest that both prenatal and postnatal fluoride exposure affect the development of non-verbal intelligence to a greater extent than verbal intelligence.

This level is less than half the concentration below which Health Canada deems fluoride to be safe.

In its strategic plan, the WECHU Board has committed that it will “make decisions based on quality evidence and apply best practice program planning and policy development frameworks.4

For this reason, I am writing to ask that WECHU:

  • add a link on the fluoride page of its website to inform pregnant women and families who choose to formula-feed their babies about the findings from this now 3-year old peer-reviewed study;
  • start advising pregnant women and new parents to use non-fluoridated water to protect the developing brains of their babies.

These common-sense measures will enable parents to be better informed regarding the current science relating to municipal water fluoridation, enabling them to protect the health of their children during the most vulnerable phase of their lives.

I look forward to the Board’s response to my concerns.

Yours sincerely,
Philippa von Ziegenweidt