QUEENSLAND Premier Anna Bligh’s spectacular backdowns on recycled water and on the controversial Traveston dam project will not save her at the next state election. Not unless she shelves her plan to add fluoride to the drinking water.
Those who think the introduction of fluoride is a minor issue should think again. It was, after all, a highway through koala habitat in southeast Queensland that ended the government of Wayne Goss.
Fluoride will be added to Queensland drinking water just before the new year break. The problem for Bligh is that the citizens who vociferously rally against fluoridated water are part of the same group that was instrumental in denouncing recycled water. It’s issues such as these, where governments run roughshod over the electorate, that really bite.
Bligh claims that most Queenslanders are in favour of fluoridation, but there is widespread scepticism, particularly among farmers, who have known for many years that some bore waters high in natural fluoride have a detrimental effect on the health of livestock.
Chronic fluorine toxicity results from continuous consumption of fluorine while the sheep are young and teeth and bones are growing. The teeth become chalky white, mottled and pitted. The bone of the lower jaw thickens and bony outgrowths may develop.
In some instances this can lead to lameness and fractures.
Selling the message that fluoride is good for human consumption is a hard task in country Queensland, especially as the Department of Primary Industries warns against a consumption of 2mg a litre for sheep. This amount would be drunk by a farmer in a normal day’s work if the drinking water had fluoride levels proposed by the Bligh Government of 0.8 to 0.9 parts per million.
During a visit to Queensland, Andrew Harms, past president of the South Australian branch of the Australian Dental Association, said the addition of fluoride to water in these mining towns would increase the uptake of lead by children and adults who already had gravely high lead levels in their blood samples.
City folk may be a different matter, especially as a substantial number of Queenslanders have migrated from NSW or Victoria. This group is seemingly content with the message that they have better teeth than their next-door neighbours. The problem is that not all Queenslanders agree with the message and that many citizens are against any form of mass medication in the water supply.
The Bligh mantra of “safe and effective” does not convince everyone and there is much evidence that contradicts the government line. In November 2006 the American Dental Association announced that baby formulas made up with fluoridated water should be avoided for infants younger than six months.
The Australian Dental Association and the National Health and Medical Research Council came on line with similar suggestions: babies six months to a year should have only about 600ml of fluoridated water, increasing slightly as the child grows.
Mistrust of government festers within a community that has started looking elsewhere for information. The Lancet medical journal and Scientific American put the cat among the pigeons with negative comments about water fluoridation and its effects on body systems.
Add to that data from the national survey of adult oral health (2004-06), published in 2007, which showed no difference in the dental health of Queenslanders and people in other states.
Some medical professionals have tried to stem the flow of indoctrination but have been ridiculed for their objections. A prime example is the highly respected Brisbane-based general practitioner John Ryan, who has postgraduate qualifications in nutrition and children’s diseases and in environmental medicine.
What irritates him is the failure of the Bligh Government to tell Queenslanders of the NHMCR fluoride warnings to mothers with babies. “Where is the Government’s duty of care?” he asks.
Ryan is angry that the Government would deceive the public about data from a much-publicised Townsville study. Oral health data was collected about children living in Brisbane (non-fluoridated) and Townsville (fluoridated). There was much publicity by the Government indicating a supposedly vast difference between the two cities. In fact, the study showed there was less that half a tooth difference.
This, Ryan says, is an ancient and poor quality study, on which the media indoctrination largely is based. “We were so shocked by five very significant untruths told to the public by the Government,” he says. As a consequence, opponents of introducing fluoride into the water supply took the matter to the Criminal Misconduct Commission. The CMC indicated it was not within its brief and referred the matter back to Queensland Health. Eight months later it has still not responded.
The primary aim of the new Queensland Safe Water Association is to inform metropolitan and country Queenslanders about the negative aspects of recycled and fluoridated water. The message is simple: the state Government is putting public health at risk. Adult Queenslanders do not have the worst teeth in Australia and babies should not be given fluoridated water.
The Bligh Government has estimated that about 30 per cent of the population is not in favour of water fluoridation, so you can bet the number is much higher. In the state election due next year, the Liberal National Party led by the urbane Lawrence Springborg, who is opposed to compulsory fluoride, maywell ride to power on the back of this debacle.