THE FIRST step has been taken towards fluoridating Ballarat’s water supply.

An information booklet, distributed by the State Government, will begin arriving in residential mail boxes today.

The move signals the start of the government’s “community engagement” process, which must occur before the compound is added to the city’s water supply.

It is not yet clear when the first doses of fluoride would be added, but it is unlikely to happen before Christmas next year.

Ballarat fluoride supporters welcomed the step forward, saying it would dispel the myths and misinformation circulating in the community.

The booklet, prepared in consultation with the Australian Dental Association Victorian Branch, Dental Health Services Victoria and the University of Melbourne School of Dental Science, contains information about fluoridated drinking water supplies and the benefits for dental health.

Victoria’s chief health officer Dr John Carnie said support from Ballarat’s health sector had prompted the mass mail-out.

He also said Australia’s peak health research and advice body, the National Health and Medical Research Council, recently released a public statement supporting water fluoridation.

“Having done a major review of the effects and potential side effects, they found that there are no adverse effects at the level we are talking about.”

The government has proposed that Ballarat’s water be fluoridated in the target range of .6 to 1.1mg per litre.

Dr Carnie said the water supply at Port Fairy, which had naturally occurring fluoride, was in the range of .8 to .9mg per litre.

“The benefits of fluoridation are illustrated by the fact that six-year-old children living in fluoridated areas of Victoria have up to 30 per cent less tooth decay than those in non-fluoridated areas.”