The Wanganui District Council has no intention of getting the fluoridation debate back on its agenda any time soon.
This comes on the back of a high-level panel finding “no adverse effects” of fluoridation of public water supplies.
The review, Health Effects of Water Fluoridation: a Review of the Scientific Evidence, was commissioned by the Prime Minister’s chief science adviser, Sir Peter Gluckman, and Royal Society of New Zealand president Sir David Skegg.
The review looked at the scientific evidence and found the levels used in New Zealand created no health risks and protected against tooth decay.
The panel said councils already adding fluoride to water – fewer than half do – could be confident about its public health benefits, while those not fluoridating could consider it safe and effective.
But yesterday Wanganui Mayor Annette Main said the council had “no intention” of putting fluoridation back on its agenda in the foreseeable future.
In November, 2011, the Whanganui District Health Board asked the three local authorities in its region to consider fluoridating. The city’s supply has never been fluoridated and in a 2006 referendum 74 per cent of voters opposed it.
This month Whanganui District Health Board member Judith MacDonald said health professionals needed to “stop flogging the dead horse of fluoridation and take a wider approach to dental health”. Mrs MacDonald said fluoridation was just one measure and introducing it was not “a battle that can ever be won”.
The board surveyed 18 Wanganui dentists and asked if they agreed to putting fluoride in drinking water. Four did not reply but the others supported it.
In the review, Sir David described the process as “rigorous”, saying it included an extensive evaluation by a panel of five experts, and one lay observer with local-body experience. The report was reviewed by three international experts and the National Poisons Centre.
He said the panel paid close attention to the claims fluoride contributed to the risks of cancer, musculoskeletal and hormonal disorders, as well as to claims that it had adverse effects on brain development – these being the major contentions about potential harms that have been made.
“The panel concluded that the concerns raised by those opposed to fluoridation are not supported by the scientific evidence,” Sir David said.
The report said the only side-effect in New Zealand was mild dental fluorosis, which could cause opaque white areas in the tooth enamel that were usually of no cosmetic significance.