“Pseudo science” and “misguided individuals” should not dictate policy on fluoridated water supplies in South Canterbury, a Timaru oral surgeon says.
The majority of the South Canterbury District Health Board members agreed to actively promote the contentious benefits of fluoride in community water supplies.
Although three board members disagreed with the position statement, at a board meeting on Friday, it was adopted.
The board’s stance was supported by oral surgeon of 45 years Ian O’Loughlin who labelled anti-fluoride campaigners “merchants of fear”.
He passionately compared the substance’s safety alongside pastuerisation and told board members of the scientific research and evidence which supported its use in preventing tooth decay.
“It [flouride] is a powerful tool.”
He thought it was unfair that 50 per cent of the country had fluoride in its water supplies and they were not showing any detrimental health signs whereas Timaru was the other half without.
“It is enormously inequitable that 50 per cent are denied the benefit from flouride.”
The choice of putting fluoroide tablets into unfluoridated water did not reach the lower socio economic group which missed out the most and were the 20 per cent which presented with severe tooth decay, O’Loughlin said.
“South Canterbury should not be denied fluoride any longer.”
Elected board member Paul Annear said the conflicting information on fluoride he had researched left him in limbo.
Terry Kennedy, also an elected board member, was against the board’s position because he had suffered from a rash when the Timaru water was flouridated.
The third member who voted against the board’s position was elected member Peter Binns a retired medical practitioner.
He thought fluoride was harmless and effective but there should be a referendum to change the status quo or leave it up to parental choice through tablets.
A referendum in 1985 reversed the addition of fluoride to the Timaru supply.
Timaru anti-fluoride campaigner Imelda Hitchcock did not attend the meeting but said fluoride was an industrial waste product which health authorities had found did not prevent tooth decay.
“It is unnecessary to put it in the water supply.”
Timaru District Council chief executive Peter Nixon said the council had no intention of conducting a referendum or introduce fluoride to the water supplies.
“I am sure individual councillors will have their own views but the current council policy is that if there is a health benefit from fluoridation the Government should require it through legislation.
“Council has taken the view, the ball is in their court.”