AN ALLIANCE has been formed by action groups in the fight against introduction of fluoride to town water drinking supplies in the North Burnett.
Monto, Gayndah and Mundubbera residents have joined forces in a united front opposed to what they see as arrogance on the part of North Burnett Regional Council (NBRC) in not listening to residents’ concerns over the council not answering questions about the costs of installing and maintaining fluoride dosing equipment.
Mundubbera resident Colin Bishop has a Diploma in Biochemic Medicine and has long been opposed to introduction of fluoride.
“The chemical, fluoride, is not a naturally occurring substance in our environment,” Mr Bishop said. “It’s a waste product from aluminium and fertiliser production and is classified as a toxic poison and environmental hazard. Mr Bishop is also concerned at the ongoing cost to the community if fluoridation of town water goes ahead.
“Ninety-nine point five per cent of the fluoridated water will not be consumed and will literally be flushed down the drain, which will cost each resident and the environment dearly,” he said. Monto and District Ratepayers’ & Residents’ Association (MDRRA) president Lex Dow said the association had long argued with the NBRC over mass medication and even though there may be anecdotal evidence that fluoride may help with young children’s teeth, it may be a case of weighing up the positives and negatives.
“There is some scientific evidence that long-term exposure to the chemical may be harmful to other members of the community,” Mr Dow said.
“In the case of mass medication of public water supplies, if there is even the slightest chance of any negatives present, then it should not proceed. “Once again, the State Government has led regional councils up the garden path by encouraging them to put their neck in the noose,” he said.
“If the sceptics are right and communities are adversely affected by this chemical some time in the future, any class action will be against the councillors for dispensing the substance.”
After announcing tenders had been awarded for the installation of three fluoride addition plants, NBRC CEO Mark Pitt has released further details and supplied figures on maintenance costs and tender details.
Mr Pitt said the cost of maintenance, labour and fluoride would be $44,000 a year and the fluoride would be purchased from China.
He said the State Government funding agreement had allocated $1,954,657 for the completion of the project and the council had not allocated any of its own funding.
“The contract has been awarded to a company that has passed on all the assessment criteria and will complete the project within the funded budget,” Mr Pitt said.
Mr Bishop is running a survey on drinking water consumption in the region.
Residents wishing details can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Survey results will be collated and presented to NBRC and the Member for Callide Jeff Seeney.
Callide MP Jeff Seeney has refused to back the North Burnett anti-fluoride group, saying the Opposition supports the Government’s fluoride push.
Mr Seeney said he understood there were concerns in the community but called on the group to assemble data and evidence on the issue.
“I have received a great deal of correspondence about this fluoride issue and it is obvious that a lot of people remain unconvinced about the decision and the formation of a group in the Burnett is a proper response to that concern,” he said.
Mr Seeney said the LNP supported the legislation in parliament after consideration of the available data.
He said the LNP had researched the issue and looked at the available information before deciding on a response.
“We also considered a considerable amount of correspondence from people for whom we understood this was an emotional issue,” he said.
Mr Seeney said it was impossible to deny evidence pointing to the benefits of fluoride in drinking water supplies and the marked difference in tooth decay rates and the benefits outweighed cost considerations.
“Because I represent a number of smaller communities, I was concerned about the cost issue for local councils with a larger rural rates base but decided on balance that the Government’s determination to pay for the installation of the equipment was a fair balance,” he said.
“Anyone who wants to build a cogent argument against fluoride needs to assemble some data that supports an argument that it does not have those widely accepted benefits.”
In December, 2007, then Health Minister Stephen Robertson said the Government’s decision to fluoridate Queensland’s water supplies was backed by compelling evidence in a national dental health report.
Mr Robertson said the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report reaffirmed that residents of Queensland – the only non-fluoridated state – had the worst teeth in Australia.
“Queensland has the highest levels of decay experience or deciduous teeth amongst children and the lowest percentages of children with no decay experience,” Mr Robertson said.
He said the report had confirmed fluoride as a proven way of reducing dental decay for the whole population, particularly amongst children.
“Other states and Townsville have had fluoridated water for 30 to 40 years and they have better teeth than the average Queenslander,” he said.
In November, 2009, North Burnett Mayor Joy Jensen said a risk of losing critical infrastructure projects in the North Burnett had been the driving force behind the council embarking upon the mandatory state fluoridation project.
Cr Jensen said the Government had promised to reimburse the council for all costs if the project was completed by December.
“If we fail to meet this deadline, we put at risk nearly $900,000 which would otherwise be directed to infrastructure projects budgeted for the ’09-10 year,” Cr Jensen said at the time.
Banana Shire Council has until 2012 to add fluoride to the water supplies of towns with populations greater than 1000 people.
What the Australian Dental Association says on fluoride:
Fluoride is found naturally in soil, minerals, plants, rivers and all water sources
Fluoride acts in a number of ways to strengthen teeth and make them more resistant to tooth decay
It is not toxic – the level in drinking water is less than one part per million
There’s no risk of fluoride causing kidney disease
There is no evidence linking water fluoridation to any form of cancer
The World Health Organisation and the UK’s Royal College of Physicians have both concluded that water fluoridation does not harm the environment