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Chief Science Advisor Out of Step with Science

Chief Science Advisor Out of Step with Science

Press Release

Mark Atkin BSC LLB (HON) Science

Advisor Fluoride Action Network New Zealand

Chief Science Advisor Out of Step with Science“The science is settled” is one of the most unscientific things anyone can say, let alone the Chief Scientific Advisor.  The UK Government’s York Review (2000) said it was poor and contradictory. “We were surprised how poor the research was. Until better research is available legitimate scientific controversy will continue”

There is huge doubt that low levels of fluoride in water reduces tooth decay as it is now well established that the vast benefit from fluoride is topical not systematic i.e. has to be applied to teeth not swallowed.  All large scale studies around the world show very little difference is decay rates. Australia 2004 found no difference by age 12. Spencer et al 2013 found maybe 1 less filling after 45 years, with low level of statistical confidence.

Most of the world has low levels of fluoride naturally in their water.  Where fluoride occurs naturally at high levels, such as in some parts of India and China, fluoride is removed at great expense.  New Zealand’s levels are no less than the vast majority of supplies in Europe.

It cannot be claimed that the very young and the very old especially benefit from fluoride in the water as these are the populations that are most likely to have no teeth.  It is well established and agreed by all top fluoridation promoters in NZ and overseas, including those in Hamilton, the vast benefit from fluoride comes from contact with the teeth

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The National Research Council undertook the most extensive scientific review of fluorides in Drinking Water in 2006. This was a 12 member panel that took 3 years to review all the scientific evidence to determine if the Maximum allowable level of fluoride in water of 4ppm (in NZ it is 1.5ppm) was safe.  They concluded it was not. They even concluded that 2ppm was not protective of health but were not allowed to say what level was safe.

In NZ we are not “adjusting the natural levels” as the fluoride used is scrubbed from the smokes stacks of the phosphate fertiliser industry and is classified as a class 7 poison.  The representative from the Poisons Board substantiated this at the Hamilton Tribunal but said “even though it is a poison when it goes in, it is not a poison when it comes out”.

The argument that one would have to ingest some huge amount to become toxic is a red herring because we are mostly talking about chronic, not acute toxicity. It is like saying the people of Minimata, Japan, could not have eaten enough fish in one meal to drop dead from mercury poisoning, so mercury is perfectly safe.  It also ignores the huge dose that bottle fed babies are receiving compared to breast fed babies (over 150 times as much).

Dental fluorosis is quite apparent in the population of NZ. NZ dental studies show 30% of children in fluoridated areas have some form of dental fluorosis compared to 15% in non-fluoridated areas.  They classified most of this as mild or very mild dental fluorosis, both of which are clearly visible.  It is also the first outward sign a child has been overexposed by fluoride i.e. poisoned. To dismiss dental fluorosis as merely cosmetic, which is what the pro-fluoridation lobby in NZ strives to do, is extremely unthinking.

The comparisons of fluoridation to wearing seat belts or iodised salt are not valid. To do so, you would first of all have to ignore all warnings that there is risk from fluoride ingestion. Secondly, there are no serious risks in not consuming fluoridated water as illustrated by 97% of Europe which is non-fluoridated and thirdly iodine is an essential nutrient, fluoride is not.

There is no scientific research that demonstrates that water fluoridation is safe. Despite well established evidence of health effects such as skeletal fluorosis, thyroid dysfunction, lowered IQ etc, associated with drinking water with high natural fluoride, and some evidence linking even fluoride at 1mg/L and less with health effects, no extensive epidemiological studies have been conducted by governments despite repeated calls from researchers to do so.

The science is in no way settled and ultimately everyone has a right to informed consent to medication. Therefore, fluoridation, by nature of it being a medication added to community water supplies, will always be unethical regardless of where the science is at.


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