Council takes health advice to Fluoridate Patea/Waverley
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
The South Taranaki District Council (STDC) voted 10 - 3 in favour of introducing fluoride into the Patea and Waverley water supplies at today’s (Monday) special Council Meeting.
The decision comes after a month long public consultation which saw 508 submissions made, 68% of which were against fluoridating the water supply.
South Taranaki Mayor, Ross Dunlop says that while a larger number of the submissions did not support fluoridation, the medical and scientific support for fluoridation was overwhelming.
“Information and misinformation about fluoride is massive and complex. There is so much conflicting information out there, I don’t know how the average person can distinguish between what is true and what isn’t,” says Mayor Dunlop.
“Many of the submitters opposed to fluoridation raised the same questions the Councillors and I had. But we were fortunate in having the opportunity to hear a range of medical and scientific evidence from the health experts and it’s on that basis we made the decision,” he says.
“The expert medical support for fluoridation is overwhelming. In New Zealand organizations such as the Royal Society of New Zealand, the New Zealand Ministry of Health, the Taranaki District Health Board, the New Zealand Children’s Commissioner, the New Zealand Medical Association, New Zealand Cancer Society, Royal New Zealand Plunket Society, Public Health Association, New Zealand Dental Association and, the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Head of Paediatrics and Child Health at Taranaki District Health Board, the Medical Director of Midland Health, the New Zealand Maori Dental Association, National Hauora Coalition, Tui Ora, Te Whare Punanga Korero all support fluoridation.
Internationally, the World Health Organisation, US National Academy of Science, Australian National Health and Medical Research Association, the World Dental Federation, British Medical Association, UK Royal College of Physicians, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and many more all support and strongly recommend the use of fluoridation as a safe, effective and affordable way to protect and improve the (dental) health of the whole community,” he says.
In fact water fluoridation has been described by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as one of the most important public health advances of the twentieth century.
“We aren’t medical experts so we must be guided by the experts. And they tell us that the extensive scientific research over many decades indicate fluoridation of the water supply is a safe and effective measure for improving public oral health.”
“This is the single most important thing the Council can do to improve the (oral) health of our children and adults in Patea and Waverley,” says Mr Dunlop.
Importantly this sentiment was echoed by local GP’s and dentists who submitted strongly in support of fluoridating the water supply. As the health professionals on the ground they provided first hand evidence of the major disparities in dental health between children in Hawera, where the water is fluoridated, and Patea/Waverley where it is not.
“While I can appreciate there are those who argue that introducing fluoride into the water supply eliminates freedom of choice – we are in no doubt that the greater public health benefit far outweighs that concern. Fluoridation of the water supply benefits all people with natural teeth regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, income or education,” he says.
Mr Dunlop says the claims of anti fluoride campaigners were simply not supported by the regional, national or international health and scientific community.
Furthermore community water fluoridation is widely used among comparable developed countries and its coverage is actually increasing in many countries.
In Australia for example, in mid 2010, 90% of Australians had access to fluoridated drinking water – an increase from 70% in 2006.
In New Zealand approximately 68% of those on town water supplies have fluoridated water.
Council officers were instructed to make an application early in the New Year for funding assistance through the Ministry of Health for the capital cost of introducing fluoride in Patea and Waverley.
Of the 508 submissions received 241 came from Patea and Waverley.
Facts about water fluoridation (provided by the NZ Ministry of Health)
What is fluoride?
Fluoride is one of the most common elements on earth. It is found in air, soils, plants, water and lots of foods.
What is water fluoridation?
New Zealand water supplies have very low levels of natural fluoride. Water fluoridation is the process of topping up the fluoride to provide protection against tooth decay.
Is water fluoridation mass medication?
Fluoride is not a medicine or drug. It occurs naturally in water supplies. All we are doing is topping it up.
Is water fluoridation safe?
Yes. Hundreds of scientific studies over 60 years have found water fluoridation is very safe. It is supported by all the following international organizations:
The World Health Organisation, US National Academy of Science, US Surgeon-General, Australian National Health and Medical Research Association, World Dental Federation, British Medical Association, British Dental Association, UK Royal College of Physicians, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Royal Society of New Zealand, New Zealand Ministry of Health, New Zealand Medical Association, New Zealand Cancer Society, Royal New Zealand Plunket Society, Public Health Association, New Zealand Dental Council, New Zealand Maori Dental Association, National Hauora Coalition and many more….
Does water fluoridation cause illness or diseases, such as bone fractures and cancer?
More than 60 years of scientific evidence shows water fluoridation is very safe.
Is fluoridated water toxic?
An adult would have to drink several thousand glasses of water at one sitting to get a lethal dose of fluoride. That much water would kill you long before fluoride became a problem.
Is the fluoride added to water an industrial waste product?
No, it is a natural by-product of a common manufacturing process. The fluoride compounds added to water are manufactured to exacting quality and purity standards. Once added to water, the new fluoride is no different to the fluoride found naturally.