It seems that most Lithgow districts residents hold no strong opinions one way or the other on the issue of water fluoridation.
But the few who do see it as an issue are very passionate in pressing their viewpoint, to the point of engaging in a public shouting match.
Although only a small number of Lithgow residents turned out to Monday night’s public meeting to help Council determine its policy on fluoridation there was what could be best described as a ‘lively’ discussion.
Of only 48 people who attended the meeting, around 20 were local residents; the remainder was made up of health care professionals and Lithgow Council staff.
The public meeting was arranged as ‘a matter of urgency’ to enable district residents to have their say on the issue of fluoridation of the water supply in the Council area.
John Irving, Project Manager of the NSW Health Department’s Teeth for Health campaign, gave a short presentation on the benefits of fluoridating water.
He was followed by two self declared anti fluoride lobbyists, Bill Sanday of Glen Davis and Debra Morris of Lithgow, who gave the audience reasons for opposing fluoridation.
The microphones were then turned over to the audience for question time with the two hour meeting turning into, at times, heated debate.
The audience was divided into two distinct groups, those for and against, and it seemed minds had already been made up before the meeting on how they felt about the issue.
Concerns raised by the small but vocal anti-fluoride group included claims of toxicity and health risks associated with fluoride and of drinking fluoridated water, the morality and problems of ‘mass medication’ and also how to reverse the process of adding fluoride to water if need be.
Both sides put up passionate arguments for and against, with a number of health professionals also standing up and giving valid reasons for fluoridating the water.
An example was made by one audience member who daily works with children from both Katoomba and Lithgow.
He said that monthly, one to two children from Katoomba will need to seek dental treatment compared to four to six children from Lithgow.
He said the only difference between these children’s living situations is that the Blue Mountains fluoridates its water.
At the conclusion of the meeting, it appeared as though no one’s mind had been changed one way or the other despite the lengthy debate.
A Lithgow Council spokesperson said yesterday it was hoped that a decision on this issue will be reached at next Monday’s Council meeting.