Cranbrook settling fluoride lawsuit

Anti-fluoride activist Kevin Millership has asked the city to hold a referendum in November 2014

The City of Cranbrook  is in the process of settling a lawsuit regarding the fluoridation of Cranbrook’s drinking water. While the city couldn’t comment on the details as it is a legal matter being dealt with by the city’s legal counsel, the city could confirm that a settlement was in the works.

Kevin Millership first brought the class action lawsuit forward in August. The suit sought damages for fluorosis caused by the city’s fluoridation program that’s been in place since 1967.

“The City of Cranbrook, through our legal counsel, is in discussion with Mr. Millership regarding his legal action and we are working together to come to a settlement,” said Chris Zettel, the city’s corporate communication officer.

Millership said that he has asked the city to hold a referendum in November 2014, with a process of education and consultation leading up to the referendum.

The city couldn’t confirm whether the settlement included those stipulations or not.

The last time the city held a referendum on the issue was whether or not to fluoridate the water back in 1966. The referendum passed and the municipality began adding fluoride the next year.

But the frequency of municipal fluoridation in B.C. has dropped  since the 1990s.

Cranbrook is one of only seven communities in the province that has continued to add fluoride to the water. The other communities are Fort Saint John, Prince George, Prince Rupert, Sparwood and Terrace.

In 2001, public fluoridation was defeated in Kamloops by a percentage of 63 to 37.

The most recent community to drop fluoridation was Williams Lake in 2011. In Williams Lake the municipality partnered with marketing firm Communication Solutions in order to inform the public about the pros and cons of fluoridation. There had twice been referendums there in the 1990s where the population voted in support of fluoride, but the low voter turn-out and confusion over the referendum prompted the city to hire the firm to provide a more thorough campaign.

Kamloops, on the other hand, gave representatives on both sides of the debate $5,000 to run their education campaign.

Millership points to the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. The association is made up of 6,000 medical professionals which educate and advocate on issues of public health.

Health Canada states on their website that the use of fluoride to prevent dental cavities is endorsed by over 90 national and international professional health organizations.

The Canadian Dental Association promotes the use of fluoride to prevent tooth decay.

The Canadian Cancer Society notes on their website that many studies done by government agency like Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as well as independent academic investigators, haven’t shown a link between fluoride in drinking water and cancer. Though the society did note that a “small and very weak body of scientific evidence suggests there is a relationship between exposure to high levels of fluoride in drinking water and osteosarcoma in boys younger than 19. Osteosarcoma is a rare type of bone cancer.