Is there fluoride in the water?

YOU ASKED: I was just wondering if Kamloops still puts fluoride inits water. I know there was a city vote in 2001 that voted it out, but I think it would be a good thing to investigate and confirm its validity. An article in the newspaper about what's in the water and the health effects would greatly promote a better awareness about this topic. I did a simple test with Kamloops drinking water where I put it into a chlorine/ph tester for pools (beginning of August 2011) and found that the chlorine range was higher than the safe limit for a pool and the ph balance was good. Now I drink a lot of tap water and don't want to have any undesirable health problems from the ingredients in our tap water.

- Jason

OUR ANSWER: You're right about one thing: 2001. That's the year the City of Kamloops stopped adding fluoride to the drinking water.

Of course, the debate over fluoridation has been raging for decades. Proponents say it provides dental protection when swallowed (for example, through the municipal drinking water), but opponents contend that it was never meant to be swallowed, only applied topically (in toothpaste and fluoride gels at the dentist.)

"Many studies actually reveal a detrimental impact fromthe ingestion ofchemical fluoride," said David Teasdale, who works in the City's utilities department. "Sodium fluoride is actually classified as a poison."

The source of fluoride for large municipal water supplies comes from hydrofluorosilicic acid, which is a chemical byproduct of fertilizer manufacturing.

"It is not a pure chemical product andoften contains trace levels of arsenic, lead and heavy metals," said Teasdale.

As for the chorine test you conducted in August, Teasdale says pool chlorine strips should never be used to measure anything other than their intended purpose in pools.

They are intended to read high levels of chlorine, typically in the range of one to10 milligrams per litre.

City water is typically in the range of 0.2-0.6 mg/l. The level leaving the water treatment plant is around 1 mg/l, said Teasdale.

"When test strips are used to measure anything out of the intended range or designedpurpose, they will produce false results," said Teasdale.

"There are a number of chorine byproducts formed in pool water, including an overabundance of mono-chloramines.The teststrips are designed to compensate for the presence of thesebyproducts that are notpresent in drinking water."

The City's water treatment system uses round-the-clock online monitoring with instruments capable of measuring chlorine accuratelydown to 0.01 mg/l levels.

"The highest levels leaving the plant do not exceed 1.5 mg/l, ever," said Teasdale.

Health Canada's maximum operational range for chlorine is 5 mg/l.

"At ranges of 0.2-0.6 mg/l in Kamloops taps, we are significantly below this," he added.

Curious to learn more about the municipal water system?

You can actually sign up for a tour of the plant to learn more about how it all works.

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