|City councillors respond to cancer society’s request for more support
Written by: Tina Depko-Denver, Burlington Post 30-Aug-2013
The Canadian Cancer Society is asking municipalities to take a more active role in the fight against cancer.A press release issued last week by the organization requests elected officials support policies that will improve public health and reduce the risk of cancer.
“The society recognizes the important leadership role municipalities and the provincial government have in ensuring healthy communities across the province,” Florentina Stancu-Soare, senior co-ordinator of public issues with the Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario division, said in the release.
A number of Burlington elected officials told the Post the city already has a number of good initiatives, but admitted more could be done.
Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster, who is also executive director of Breast Cancer Support Services in Burlington, says the city and Halton Region have a number of awareness and education campaigns related to cancer prevention and healthy lifestyle choices that appear to be resonating with residents.
“We already do a lot with programs and activities, and we have exceptional programs and facilities, so they are already talking to the converted,” Lancaster said. “We are probably outstanding leaders in many of the things the Canadian Cancer Society is recommending. Can we do more? I believe we can.
”Lancaster said she would like to see more campaigns targeting the over-40 crowd about the benefits of regular exercise.“
I think what we can do is inspire people to be more healthy overall,” she said.
A report released this summer by the Halton Region Health Department revealed cancer is the leading cause of death in Halton and Ontario.
The report looked at trends in specific cancer rates in Halton from 1986 to 2009. It also drew on data collected from 2005 to 2009 by Cancer Care Ontario.
The four leading types of cancer in both Halton and the province were lung, colorectal, prostate (men) and breast (women).
“These four cancers combined account for over 50 per cent of all new cancer cases and almost 50 per cent of cancer deaths,” the report stated.The report also found that when examining all cancers, melanoma, thyroid, breast (women), and prostate (men) cancers had particularly higher incidence rates for Halton than Ontario.
Mortality rates for all cancers combined, however, was significantly lower for Halton than Ontario.
Both locally and provincially, while incidents of many cancers have declined, non-hodgkin lymphoma, kidney, melanoma, thyroid and prostate cancers in particular have increased, the report continued.
“We are higher in cancer rates, especially for breast, prostate and lung cancers, and those are all cancers that you can really affect a lot of change through lifestyle changes,” Lancaster said. “I think the response municipalities give is it is not our responsibility, it falls under health care. While I understand that point of view, I think we could certainly advocate more in the Halton region.”
A big change that could come later this year is a possible bylaw banning smoking in city parks. A staff report is expected to go before councillors for consideration in the fall.
Lancaster said she is supportive of a full smoking ban in parks.
“Smoking is the number 1 cause of cancer and many other diseases, so we all know it is bad and the problem with smoking is one smoker affects a lot of other people,” she said. “If you want to harm your body, that’s up to you. However, when it affects everyone around you at the park, that’s unacceptable.
A possible bylaw also has support from Mayor Rick Goldring.
“If it was up to me, I’d have an outright ban,” he said. “…We have to push the agenda on smoking to encourage more people not to smoke.”
Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward, whose ward includes Spencer Smith Park with its numerous outdoor festivals, said she has received strong community support for banning smoking in city parks.
She said residents have also called for a ban on smoking on patios.
“For the health of everyone in our community I am supportive of smoking bans in public places,” Meed Ward said.
Although Oakville implemented a tanning bed bylaw last summer, Goldring said he is hopeful the provincial parties can work together to pass tanning bed legislation.
The Liberals introduced Bill 30 this spring, but infighting among the parties left it stuck at second reading by the summer break. The bill aims to ban teens under 18 from using tanning beds, as well as require tanning bed operators to post signs of associated health risks and prohibit tanning marketing to teens under 18.
The Liberals released a statement last week they plan to fast-track the proposed legislation this fall, based on support from the PCs and NDP.
“I think we’d rather wait and see what the province does, assuming they do something, but I’m not averse to going ahead with something (if they don’t),” Goldring said.
The mayor also pointed to the city’s anti-idling bylaw, as well as the its growing emphasis on building more walkable neighbourhoods through redevelopment as two initiatives that can be considered steps towards preventing cancer.
“I think a big part of it is air quality,” he said. “The work that’s being done in places like Plains Road building mixed-use, walkable communities where people drive less and walk more is important. A good thing about people driving less is it improves air quality.”
-with files from the Milton Canadian Champion
|Halton residents unnecessarily exposed to a known carcinogen introduced through a flawed public health policy
Rebuttal by: Sheldon Thomas, 01-Nov-2013
That bad news aside, it is encouraging to read one Regional councillor’s comment: “While I understand that point of view (cancer strategies fall under health care), I think we could certainly advocate more in Halton Region.”
There are many in agreement that more can be done to fight cancers in Halton Region. Part of that ‘more’ can be done quite easily, and with strong justification.
Halton residents are unnecessarily exposed to a known carcinogen that is introduced by a flawed public health policy.
The carcinogen is arsenic. 1 The flawed policy is its addition to drinking water via water fluoridation. 2
The danger of adding even trace amounts of arsenic to drinking water was pointed out to Regional councillors and to Halton’s Medical Officer of Health at a special council meeting to discuss fluoridation, held January 31, 2012.
Councilors were not told, however, that there exists the possibility that 1 in every 10,000 Halton residents could suffer a fatal cancer in their lifetimes due to the use of Halton’s choice of fluoridation chemical. 3
If estimates are even close to accurate, arsenic introduced during water fluoridation could end the lives of more than 40 Halton residents.
The cancer deaths prediction is the collaborative work of two highly credible North American research agencies, the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) 4 and National Academy of Sciences (NAS). 5
In 2000, the NRDC published a study titled ‘Arsenic and Old Laws: A Scientific and Public Health Analysis of Arsenic Occurrence in Drinking Water, Its Health Effects, and EPA’s Outdated Arsenic Tap Water Standard.’ 3
The study used data supplied by the NAS, data previously extracted from the files of the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). The NRDC/NAS cancer estimates are based upon standard, scientifically-accepted linear extrapolation analysis.
The NRDC determined that 1 in 10,000 could suffer a fatal cancer if the arsenic level in drinking water reached 0.5 parts per billion (ppb). 3 That is a tiny figure, but we are talking about an established human carcinogen being ingested daily for years, more often for decades.
Now, combine that study with this: ‘NSF International’, the industrial consortium that certifies Halton’s fluoridation chemical hydrofluorosilicic acid (HFSA), readily admits that, by its own calculation, a typical batch of NSF-certified HFSA adds, on average, 0.43 ppb of arsenic to drinking water. 6
When HFSA is added to drinking water it is diluted 240,000 to 1, and the arsenic in the acid gets diluted likewise as the fluoride is adjusted toward the ‘optimum’ 0.7 ppm concentration. 7
Even though just a trace of arsenic remains in the drinking water, that residual trace is measureable, and it does matter. And ‘on average’ means that sometimes there is more than 0.43 ppb arsenic residual in your drinking water.
NSF’s 0.43 ppb of arsenic is getting pretty close to the NRDC’s 0.5 ppb that could trigger the 1/10,000 fatal cancer.
The NSF numbers are proof of on-going and willful addition of arsenic to drinking water on both sides of the border, and they also serve to add further substance to the warnings in the NRDC’s 13-year-old study.
Halton Region 2012 water quality reports indicate that arsenic was at <0.001 ppm, or <1ppb for all systems. This confirms that there are no exceedances by Ministry of the Environment (MOE) standards, but note that precise numbers are not supplied in the Halton report.
What if <1 ppb is actually 0.9 ppb? 0.9 ppb of residual arsenic would approach the 1 in 5000 fatal cancer prediction of the NRDC/NAS model. 3
NSF states that arsenic is just one of 15 possible contaminants found in HFSA tanker shipments 2, but it is the contaminant most frequently present in the batch acid. That means that you can count on it being in many of Halton’s tanker deliveries.
On Jan 26, 2012, Halton Water provided examples of ‘Certificates of Chemical Analysis’ that normally accompany shipments of HFSA. Seven randomly-dated certificates were sent to this author. All certificates revealed concentrations of arsenic.
It is worth noting that Health Canada is very concerned about arsenic in drinking water. In 2006, it stated, “Because arsenic can cause cancer, every effort should be made to keep levels in drinking water as low as possible.” 8 ‘Every effort’ would suggest using a fluoridating chemical that does not contain an arsenic co-contaminant.
Halton has the option to instruct its HFSA suppliers to strip Halton shipments of all arsenic. That could be done by the chemical’s manufacturer, but at Halton’s additional cost. 9
It would require, however, that staff begin on-going inspection of HFSA shipments as they arrive at the water plant to assure that there is zero arsenic in Halton’s now-costlier product.
Currently, Halton staff does not conduct chemical verification testing of HFSA shipments. But there is no reason that chemical constituent testing could not be done. The AWWA Fluorosilicic Acid Standard B703 has been available since 1954 encouraging on-site water plant testing, and providing the guidelines to accomplish HFSA chemical analysis. 10
If all of that is too onerous, Halton could always simply abandon water fluoridation and join the 28% of other Canadians who have stepped away from fluoridation since 2005.
Halton Region could join the 67% of un-fluoridated Canadians who drink tap water without any fear of fluoride-induced cancers that could later result.
“Three U.S. courts have found water fluoridation to be injurious to human health, specifically that it may cause or contribute to the cause of cancer and genetic damage (described in detail by Graham and Morin, 1999).”
“The NRC’s committee on fluoride toxicology unanimously concluded that “Fluoride appears to have the potential to initiate or promote cancers,” even though the overall evidence is “mixed” (NRC,2006).”
“Referring to the animal studies .. the question becomes one of how strongly carcinogenic fluoride is, and under what circumstances.”
The three quotes above belong to Dr. Kathleen Thiessen. 11
Dr. Thiessen is a highly sought-after professional in the field of risk analysis, including exposure assessment, toxicity evaluation, and risk assessment.
Dr. Thiessen co-authored the National Research Council (NRC) 2006 report ‘Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Scientific Review of EPA’s Standards’. More about Dr. Thiessen is available in the references. 12
A huge red flag regarding fluoride’s links to cancer is found in Dr. Thiessen’s second quote.
After reviewing 1077 pertinent studies over a period of 3.5 years to create the 2006 NRC ‘Fluoride in Drinking Water’ report, all 12 members of the expert panel were convinced that fluoride, in some way, appeared to be causative of cancers. 11
In the face of mounting evidence that fluoride may be a cancer enabler, it is highly irresponsible to blithely ignore the data and continue to promote water fluoridation as both proven and safe.
It is well-known that fluoride is mutagenic. It has the ability to corrupt cell function. Many mutagens are also carcinogens. 13
Fluoride is also a ‘mitogen’ – meaning it can stimulate the proliferation of bone-forming cells called ‘osteoblasts’. Osteosarcoma is a cancer caused by an abnormal proliferation of osteoblasts. 13
The stimulated growth of osteoblasts “may increase the risk for some of the dividing cells to become malignant.” (National Research Council, 2006). 14
Fluoride is drawn to the calcium reserves in bone and accumulates there in ever-increasing concentrations over a lifetime. That cancers can develop in the specific tissue where fluoride is known to accumulate should come as no surprise.
Several studies have found an association between fluoride in drinking water and the occurrence of osteosarcoma (bone cancer) in young males. (Bassin 2006; Cohn 1992; Hoover 1991). 14
Dr. Elise Bassin’s study indicated that boys consuming fluoridated water during their 6th, 7th, and 8th years of life (the mid-childhood growth spurt) had a statistically significant “remarkably robust” risk of developing osteosarcoma during their teenage years. 14
Canadian national hero Terry Fox lived the first 8 years of his life in fluoridated Winnipeg. He later suffered from osteogenic sarcoma, the most common and most malignant of bone cancers. It arises from bone-forming cells and affects the ends of long bones (where bone tissue forms).
Terry’s cancer attacked the femur bone of his right leg. His leg was amputated 6” above the knee when he was 18 years old.
The causes of osteosarcoma are not known. But, until proven otherwise, fluoride’s role in bone cancer cannot be arbitrarily ruled out. Collective research strongly suggests that fluoride enables, promotes or is an outright cause of cancers. 15
Risking cancer for what?
What are the fluoridation benefits that are so powerful that we would risk cancer?
Many strong studies, including 5 very solid Canadian studies, indicate that, despite its fervent promotion, there is little or no dental benefit attributed to water fluoridation. 16
And it is well-established that non-fluoridating communities show the same decline in dental cavity rates as are seen in fluoridated communities. In fact, non-fluoridating communities display healthier teeth thanks to markedly reduced prevalence of dental fluorosis (mottling, discolouration and pitting of teeth caused by excessive early exposure to fluoride). 16
Water fluoridation has had close to 70 years to lead us out of the cavity wilderness. Seventy years represents a very long clinical trial .. more than enough time to prove whether something works, or not.
After 70 years, this result emerges .. water fluoridation might spare each of us, statistically, one half of a cavity over a lifetime. 17
Worded differently, in our lifetime efforts to protect all 128 tooth surfaces, fluoridation might protect a half surface more than no fluoridation at all.
That sums up water fluoridation’s dental benefit from birth to death. Not the powerful benefit we were promised.
But the Post’s story relates to cancers, not cavities. So, the primary questions are:
Has, or will, water fluoridation cost lives due to fluoride’s seeming ability to enable cancers?
Can anyone say, with certainty, that the answer is ‘no’?
Aware now that highly-regarded research agencies judge trace amounts of arsenic to be possibly life-ending, are councillors still comfortable accepting advice that would cause them to add any amount of this carcinogen to the drinking water of Halton residents?
Would councillors continue to risk cancers in this community in pursuit of a dental benefit that is barely appreciable?
Author: Sheldon Thomas
Sheldon Thomas is the owner/president and chief trainer of ‘Clear Water Legacy Inc.’, a M.O.E. recognized drinking water system operator training service.
Mr. Thomas spent more than a quarter century operating and then managing the City of Hamilton’s aged and complex Class 4 water system. Lessons learned there combined with subsequent research enable Mr. Thomas to deliver a unique and useful message to water system operators and managers.
Mr. Thomas continues to work with researchers, consultants and water authorities to improve water system performance and sustainability.
Mr. Thomas resides in Burlington, Ontario and is also an executive member of Canadians Opposed to Fluoridation ~ Canadiens Opposés à la Fluoration (www.COF-COF.ca)
1 USEPA Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), Arsenic (inorganic)(CASRN 7440-38-2) 11.A.: Evidence of Human Carcinogenicity .. Classification A: human carcinogen
2 NSF Fact Sheet on Fluoridating Chemicals
3 Natural Resources Defense Council. (2000). Arsenic and Old Laws: A Scientific and Public Health
Analysis of Arsenic Occurrence in Drinking Water, Its Health Effects, and EPA’s Outdated Arsenic Tap Water Standard. http://www.nrdc.org/water/drinking/arsenic/aolinx.asp
Chart 1: Lifetime Risks of Dying of Cancer from Arsenic in Tap Water Based upon the National Academy of Sciences’ 1999 Risk Estimates*
From the Natural Resource Defense Council’s February 2000 Report “Arsenic & Old Laws”
Arsenic Level in Tap Water (in parts per billion, or ppb)
Approximate Total Cancer Risk (assuming 2 liters consumed/day)
0.5 ppb 1 in 10,000 (highest cancer risk EPA allows in tap water)
1 ppb 1 in 5,000
3 ppb 1 in 1,667
4 ppb 1 in 1,250
5 ppb 1 in 1,000
10 ppb 1 in 500
20 ppb 1 in 250
25 ppb 1 in 200
50 ppb 1 in 100
*See note 3 at http://www.nrdc.org/water/drinking/arsenic/chap3.aspfor details on how the
NRDC calculated total cancer risk based on an extrapolation of NAS’s risk estimates, which assumed a linear dose-response and no threshold.
4 Based in the United States, the NRDC is that nation’s most effective environmental action group, combining the grassroots power of 1.3 million members and online activists with the courtroom clout and expertise of more than 350 lawyers, scientists and other professionals.
5 The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) was established in 1863 to address the government’s urgent need for an independent advisor on scientific matters. As science began to play an ever-increasing role in national priorities and public life, the National Academy of Sciences expanded to include the National Research Council in 1916, the National Academy of Engineering in 1964, and the Institute of Medicine in 1970.
6 Oct. 24, 2000 / Michael Connett, ‘How Much Arsenic is Fluoridation Adding to the Public Water Supplies?’, Fluoride Action Network (FAN) http://www.fluoridealert.org
April 24, 2000 / letter written by NSF’s Stan Hazen, General Manager Drinking Water Additives Certification Program, to Mr. Juan Menedez, the State of Florida, Department of Public Health, Tallahassee, Florida
7 240,000x DF / The Dilution Factor of HFSA when the target is 0.75mg/L of fluoride ion in drinking water / Peter Van Caulart, President Environmental Training Institute, Ridgeville, Ontario / March 24, 2012
8 Health Canada 2006 report ‘Arsenic in Drinking Water’ report it stated, “Because arsenic can cause cancer, every effort should be made to keep levels in drinking water as low as possible.”
9 AWWA Standard B703 Fluorosilicic Acid
10 AWWA Standard B703 Fluorosilicic Acid, Sect 5 ‘Verification’
11 General Comments on Fluoridation / Dr. K.M Thiessen, Sept 7, 2011
12 Kathleen M. Thiessen, Ph.D. SENES Oak Ridge, Inc., Center for Risk Analysis, 102 Donner Drive, Oak Ridge, TN 37830 (865) 483-6111 firstname.lastname@example.org
She has recently served on two subcommittees of the National Research Council’s Committee on Toxicology that dealt with fluoride exposure and toxicity, including the NRC’s Committee on Fluoride in Drinking Water. She has also authored an Environmental Protection Agency report on fluoride toxicity.
13 Submission to CA OEHHA on prioritizing 38 potential carcinogens for review “Fluoride and Osteosarcoma” by Paul Connett. May 4, 2009.
14 Fluoride and Osteosarcoma: A timeline’, Michael Connett, 2012. http://www.fluoridealert.org/studies/cancer05/
15 1990 Dr. William Marcus, an EPA senior science advisor and toxicologist, maintained that, “fluoride is a carcinogen by any standard that we use. I believe EPA should act immediately to protect the public, not just on the cancer data, but on the evidence of bone fractures, arthritis, mutagenicity, and other effects.”
16 Maupome et al, ‘Patterns of Dental Caries Following the Cessation of Water Fluoridation’ Dec 31, 2001
Clark et al, ‘Changes in Dental Fluorosis Following the Cessation of Water Fluoridation’ Dec 31, 2006
Locker et al, ‘Benefits and Risks of Water Fluoridation – Report to Ontario Ministry of Health & Health Canada’ Nov 15, 1999
ITO, Caledon and Brampton Study, Peel Region (2757 Determinants of Caries in Adjacent Fluoridated and Non-fluoridated Cities) Mar 21, 2007
Azarpazhooh, Oral Health Consequences of the Cessation of Water Fluoridation in Toronto, MSc Thesis Report, Faculty of Dentistry – University of Toronto, City of Toronto Public Health, Aug 31, 2006
17 In 1990, researchers at the National Institutes of Health compared the dental records of 16,000 children between ages 5 and 17. Half lived in fluoridated communities; the rest did not. The study showed that children in fluoridated communities had 0.6 fewer decayed tooth surfaces — or about half of one cavity — than those who didn’t drink fluoridated water. “That’s not much of a benefit,” says toxicologist Tim Kropp, Ph.D., of the Environmental Working Group, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization that opposes water fluoridation.
http://cof-cof.ca/2012/01/does-water-fluoridation-really-save-dental-treatment-dollars / ODA’s
Fluoridation Information Night in Waterloo 21-Oct-2010 — audio of Dr. Peter Cooney’s response to fluoridation’s less than one cavity reduction per person.
Globe and Mail, Martin Mittelstaedt, Thursday, Apr. 15, 2010, “After a request from The Globe and Mail for a breakdown of the cavity rates by province, Statistics Canada tabulated the figures for Ontario and Quebec. Results showed that if fluoridation is the only major difference between the two provinces, the chemical is preventing fewer than half a cavity per child in Ontario. Health Canada down-played the significance of the findings.”
COF-COF Rebuttal: City responds to cancer society’s request for more support, but unnecessarily exposes residents to a known carcinogen via flawed public health policy
November 1, 2013 By