City of Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada, fluoridated since 1961, voted to stop fluoridation by 63%. Kamloops, in the interior of the province, has a population of about 90,000.

Dentists brace for worst with no fluoride

October 15, 2001

Dental experts will be watching to see the impact of Saturday’s referendum vote that pushed fluoride out of the city’s water system.

Laura Leadbetter-Fuoco, a hygienist with public health, said some studies show an increase in cavities in the long term after fluoride is removed from water systems.

She said she’d like to see the $70,000 a year the city will save from not adding hydrofluorosilicic acid to the water supply to go toward a public-health program involving dentistry.

She was disappointed by the vote, but was not caught off guard by the 63 per cent of people who said they wanted fluoride out.

“I would say if the voters’ decision was based on the decision of freedom of choice, then they’ve spoken. But I have to believe that a number of people probably voted more out of doubt and based on — I guess — scare tactics that have been published over and over again,” she said Sunday.

Kamloops dentist Dr. Rick Hallett said those who are highly susceptible to cavities will be most affected by the removal of fluoride.

[Note: Kaloomps is a city of 80,000 located in Canadian British Columbia, just north of Washington state in the U.S.]

“I hope in their wisdom the voters of Kamloops are correct in their decision and I hope it doesn’t turn into any kind of a disaster,” he said.

“You take fluoride out of the equation, you have more disasters.”

He said he has no plans to mount another fluoride battle in the future, after he campaigned in this year’s referendum and in the one held in 1993.

“Anybody who doesn’t vote doesn’t have a right to complain.”

The anti-fluoride side greeted the referendum results with cheers, but aren’t clinking their water glasses together until the fluoride is out.

Tyson Bartel of the Kamloops Safe Water Foundation said members of his group will go to city council’s regular meeting Tuesday to thank the civic politicians for the $3,000 they were given to get their message across.

“I think there’s going to be a little more awareness now that a few noisy people — that’s what we’ve been called — represents part of the population,” he said.

“I’m really happy fluoride’s out.”

An organic gardener, Bartel has been concerned about watering his vegetables and fruits with fluoridated water.

“Next spring, it’ll feel really good when I get out there in my garden and start watering,” he said.

Another group member, Marcelle Leibel, said she didn’t think the vote against fluoride would be as strong as 63 per cent.

“I knew we would win, but I didn’t think we would win by that much.”

“I’ll still talk to people who are not convinced, even though it’s all over.”

Linda Oldfield, also with the group, was vocally opposed to fluoride during the 1993
referendum.

“The feeling of it this time was a lot different. People are more aware, people are reading more. People are more informed,” she said.

She didn’t know if this referendum will end the fluoride debate.

"I think as long as fluoride's around, there's going to be a debate," she said.

As people become more knowledgeable, they're not going to want more chemicals in their water.

Kevin Millership, who has filed a lawsuit against the city, province and federal government, said he will drop the city from his action. It will proceed against the other two levels of government, however.