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Water Flouridation Brought Into Public Arena

2nd June 2004

Fluoride Action Network (FAN) NZ, would like to thank Auckland DHB chair Wayne Brown for bringing the contentious subject of water-fluoridation into the public arena (NZ Herald, 1/06/04).

Although disappointed that his initial public stance is in support of the practice, they are not surprised.

"He will not have been properly informed on the topic. The Minister of Health has an entrenched view that artificial fluoridation is entirely beneficial, regardless of the evidence to the contrary - although The Ministry privately admits under the OIA that there is scientific debate on the matter" says spokesperson Caren McConnell.

"For example, does he even know that the fluoride source used is a toxic industrial waste? The Material Safety Data Sheet of which says that spillage must be neutralised to "non hazardous insoluble calcium fluoride prior to disposal", and that prolonged exposure to subacute levels causes brittle bones, sore joints and anaemia.

Does he know that fluoridation has progressively been abandoned in continental Europe and that dental decay rates have continued to fall, in many cases faster? Or that the EU has recently criticised England, Ireland, and Spain for continuing the practice.

Or, of WHO's warning that "public health administrators should be aware of the total fluoride exposure in the population before introducing any additional fluoride" and that exposure is not being monitored by his DHB or any other? In fact, despite being more toxic than either cadmium or lead, there isn't even a maximum 'limit' of fluoride in any foodstuff other than bottled water in NZ.

Surely he knows already that the first sign of fluoride poisoning is white blotches on the teeth and that those most susceptible are children with poor nutrition?

How about the international review carried out by the University of York in 2001? It found that fluoridation studies had poor methodology and unreliable results, that there was no proof of safety or particular benefit to the poor, and that any benefit was in the order of less than ½ a tooth surface!

Biggest of all, Mr Brown won't have been told that the US Centre for Disease Control admitted in 2001 (and the American Dental Association in 2000) that any benefit from fluoride is a topical one (ie from toothpaste) and not systemic (from water).

Maybe it is time that the public starting asking questions too, like: Where is the evidence that the risks of hip fracture, thyroid problems, gastric reflux, renal failure and arthritis from fluoride exposure are adequately being "monitored" in NZ? Who will pay for the cost of repairing damage from dental fluorosis – the DHBs perhaps? How can people get the prohibitive cost of decontaminating their water recouped? (In the UK some are deducting it from Council Rates payments)

Ms McConnell believes that the levy that Mr Brown proposes would be in breach of Councils' statutory position as decision-maker (supposedly in full-consultation with the public) on fluoridation – as upheld by a Commission of Inquiry in 1956, and the Privy Council in 1964.

But as for the prospect of water fluoridation being put properly on trial….? FAN(NZ) says "Bring it on".


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