The debate over fluoride in drinking water has washed further over the region with Manawatu District the latest target of anti-fluoride campaigners.
Manawatu District Council was lobbied to review its stance on the matter as part of its draft Annual Plan submissions hearings yesterday.
Six of the 100-plus submissions sought a review of fluoridation in Manawatu, with submitters saying residents had not been consulted, and that there were adverse health effects and no legal basis for it to be put in the public water supply.
Similar themes were voiced during the Palmerston North City Council’s hearings last week, with calls for the city to dump fluoridation of its water too.
Fluoride Action Network spokeswoman Mary Byrne said fluoridation of water was “ineffectual, harmful and outdated”.
“If it works on the outside of the teeth then why are we swallowing it? It’s completely unnecessary, but worse than that is there is a lot of harm coming from it.”
She disputed the Ministry of Health’s view that fluoridation was safe and said it increased rates of fluorosis, mottling of the teeth, instead.
Ms Byrne said there were a number of other councils in New Zealand grappling with the fluoridation issue, including Palmerston North, where Mayor Jono Naylor said the Ministry of Health should review the topic.
This week, the Hamilton City Council is also hearing some of the 1500 submissions it has received on the topic. The Hastings and Whakatane councils will hold referendums later this year.
Central Hawke’s Bay District stopped fluoridation last year and Dunedin has opted for reduced levels.
“We don’t have conclusive evidence, but there have been enough [overseas] studies to raise serious doubt and most people think if there’s doubt then it’s best to get out.”
Manawatu Mayor Margaret Kouvelis said that “science is changing” and the points raised by campaigners were valid and worth considering.
Cr John Baxter said he, too, had had a change of heart. “I’ve been here a while and I used to be sick of these presentations, but I support you now.”