Medical Officer of Health Reassures Community that Fluoride Safe and Effective

Written by admin, January 29, 2014

January 29, 2014 – Community Water Fluoridation Offers Important Health Benefits to Those Most in Need

During last night’s public meeting organized by a local advocacy group to discuss the merits of community water fluoridation, Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, Medical Officer of Health with Peterborough Public Health, reassured residents that fluoride is not only safe and effective but the best way to help those unable to afford dental care.

“Scientific evidence continues to show that when fluoride is added to municipal water supplies at optimum levels, it strengthens everyone’s teeth and remains safe, even if ingested,” said Dr. Salvaterra.  “I share the organizers’ passion for ensuring our water supplies are safe, healthy and beneficial to all, however it is important to use an evidence-based approach instead of developing opinions based on sensational claims made by sources that are not peer reviewed, or taken out of context, such as those presented in the movie The Fluoride Deception”.

Dr. Salvaterra encouraged the audience to ensure they consulted credible sources when learning about fluoride, such as those compiled on Public Health’s webpage entitled “Fluoride Facts” on

In response to concerns raised that fluoride is a form of industrial waste, Dr. Salvaterra explained that the fluoride occurs naturally and is obtained from the same rocks from which phosphates used in fertilizers are extracted.  Fluoride is the thirteenth most abundant material found in the earth’s crust. The fluoride is then processed to remove impurities from the rocks.  “Fluoride is not a waste product of the fertilizer manufacturing process, but rather, a co-product,” she said.  One-third of the fluoride in Peterborough city water comes naturally from the Otonabee River.

Dr. Salvaterra noted that fluoride safe and effective because such miniscule amounts are added to water, and that these levels are monitored daily.  She explained that the highly concentrated hydrofluosilicic acid (HFSA) is hazardous, as is chlorine, and must be handled with care by drinking water operators.  But in the minute quantities that appear in Peterborough’s water, these substances are both safe and effective. Contrary to some claims, HFSA contains no lead.  As for mercury, PUC reports that although they test for it, they are unable to detect any in Peterborough water.  And for arsenic, the minute amount detectable in Peterborough water is only 1/64th of the amount allowable and most of it does not come from HFSA – it is already present in the raw water from the Otonabee River.

Dr. Salvaterra also addressed the cost benefit analysis of community water fluoridation. “Instead of costing the public money, adding fluoride to city water actually reduces the economic burden of tooth decay. Every dollar spent on water fluoridation saves $38 in dental treatments.  Fluoridating drinking water is still the most economical way to bring the benefits of fluoride to the entire population, including those who cannot afford it or do not have dental coverage.”  She noted that according to Public Health’s recent Oral Health Status Report, one-third of local residents have no form of dental insurance.



For further information, please contact:

Brittany Cadence
Communications Supervisor
(705) 743-1000, ext. 391