In an attempt to reduce the risk of mild fluorosis, the fluoride level in US water was recently reduced [sic, should be proposed] from an optimum range between 0.7 and 1.2 parts per million to a single level of 0.7.
Tauranga man Ken Evans, who led a petition in 1992 to remove fluoride from Tauranga’s water, says the Bay of Plenty District Health Board that the region should follow suit.
Currently, Whakatane and Ohope are the only areas in the Bay with fluoridated water.
Fluoride was removed from Tauranga’s water following a referendum in October 1992, where 51.88 per cent of residents voted against fluoridation.
Ken sourced statistics, through an Official Information Act request, which show more children in the Bay’s non-fluoridated water areas had perfect teeth at five years old, than those in fluoridated areas in eight of the last 10 years.
He believes this is evidence that fluoridation is unnecessary and he’s calling for the BOPDHB to act accordingly.
“I feel this information should be public, and I feel the DHB is obligated to do that,” says Ken.
“The city wanted a referendum, and the anti-fluoride vote won every ward in the city, so it was a resounding victory to not have fluoridation.
“Twenty years later I’ve revisited, because I can see the fluoride issue is starting to raise its head again. It’s clear to people, that they can see on average, its better not to have fluoride.
“There is a very wide body of evidence on the benefits and safety of drinking water with fluoridation. The DHB strongly supports drinking water with fluoride because of the benefits it has for oral health, not only for children but anyone.”
He says it’s important for residents in Whakatane and Ohope to know this information.
Medical officer of health, Dr Neil de Wet says the BOPDHB is happy with the fluoride levels in Whakatane and Ohope – and hopes to see fluoride re-added to Tauranga’s water.
“I think we and our children are all missing out on its essential valuable benefits.”
He says the DHB constantly reviews its fluoride policies and is aware of the changes in the US, but says they are not concerned.
“There is a very wide body of evidence on the benefits and safety of drinking water with fluoridation. The DHB strongly supports drinking water with fluoride because of the benefits it has for oral health, not only for children but anyone.
“From a DHB point of view we’ll keep on promoting it.”
The BOPDHB and Toi Te Ora Public Health Service’s water fluoridation position statement says there is potential to fluoridate the drinking water supplies for more than 80 per cent of the population in the Bay of Plenty.
“The BOPDHB’s community dental service sees approximately 35,000 children every year, who are aged from birth to 12-years-old.
“The service monitors the oral health of these children and provides separate data for those children living in fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas.
It says national data shows children living in areas with community water fluoridation have better oral health than those in un-fluoridated areas.
“There is no international or New Zealand evidence that demonstrates any significant harm from the addition of fluoride to drinking water supplies in a controlled way.
“The only health effect that has been demonstrated in optimally fluoridated areas is increased levels of very mild or mild dental fluorosis.”