Health officials backing fluoridation have squared off against a visiting professor who compared their message to “a religious crusade”.
More than 60 people gathered at the Hastings District Council chambers yesterday for a workshop in response to a petition received by the council last month in which 250 people requested that the council reconsider its decision last year to continue fluoridating the water supply.
Hastings has fluoridated its water for all but one of the past 59 years.
Hawke’s Bay District Health Board had Robin Whyman of the National Fluoridation Information Service and National Poisons Centre toxicologist Michael Beasley give their views on fluoridation. Then Paul Connett, professor of chemistry at St Lawrence University New York and research director of the Fluoride Action Network, gave his.
Dr Whyman said there had been 17 research papers, three major reviews and a national oral health survey in the past 20 years on fluoridation.
The York Report 2000, which looked at all evidence from studies on fluoridation around the world, found that between 0.6 and 2.25 more teeth were affected by dental decay in non-fluoridated areas than in fluoridated areas, he said.
His experience working in Hutt Valley, where water is fluoridated, and in Whanganui, where it is not, taught him he could do much more to repair the teeth of people in fluoridated areas.
Hastings introduced fluoride to its water supply in 1952. Early in 1990 the council stopped fluoridation. However, after a referendum later that year, fluoridation was reinstated at 1 part per million. It was reduced to 0.7ppm last year.
Dr Beasley told councillors that removing fluoride would result in more health losses than gains.
However, Dr Connett said fluoridation of water supplies was unethical and poor medical practice.
He said 98 per cent of Western European countries did not fluoridate their water and cited studies that found fluoridation had made no difference in tooth decay.
Dr Connett said Maori had “some of the best teeth in the world” before colonisation and the introduction of sugar. Maori, who now have among the worst dental health, would be best served if the problem of poor diet was looked into.
He said there had been 24 studies published that indicated IQ was affected by fluoride.
Dr Connett said the Health Ministry, in promoting fluoridation, was relying on “self-serving reviews backing up their message”, and compared the promotion to a “religious crusade”. “You’ve been conned.”
He said he did not know what motivated doctors and dentists to spread the pro-fluoridation message, and urged the ministry to conduct more studies on fluoride’s effects.
A Council Choice
More than 2.3 million New Zealanders live in communities whose water supply is fluoridated.
Of the 67 district and city councils, 26 have at least one water supply that is fluoridated.
Those councils that have no fluoridated water supply include:
Napier City Council
Carterton District Council
South Wairarapa District Council
Horowhenua District Council
Tararua District Council
Wanganui District Council
Rangitikei District Council
Wairoa District Council