Fluoride Action Network

Brisbane: Fluoride overdose didn’t cause illness, says health expert

Source: The Courier-Mail | May 22nd, 2009
Location: Australia

QUEENLAND’S chief health officer says it is unlikely a fluoride overdose in the drinking water north of Brisbane has caused a young girl to break out in blisters.

The girl’s father told ABC Radio he feared an overdose of fluoride in his suburb’s drinking water had caused blisters on his daughter’s shoulders and head.

Chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young says blisters are not symptoms associated with high fluoride intake.

“The first symptom anyone gets from a high level of fluoride is gastrointestinal,” Dr Young said.

“Because fluoride irritates the gut you get nausea and diarrhoea.

“You would get that before you would get any other symptom.”
The government has come under fire for confusion over which suburbs were affected, the quantity of the overdose and when it happened.

Originally the government said about 4000 homes in Warner and Brendale, in Brisbane’s north, were thought to have received up to 20 times the allowable fluoride dose.

An investigation by an independent expert commissioned by Premier Anna Bligh discovered the dosage was less and only about 400 homes in the suburb of Joyner, near the North Pine treatment plant, were affected.

Dr Young said 211 schoolchildren who were at a camp in the area have not displayed any symptoms.

“Those children have not had any effects from that dose of fluoride they possibly received,” Dr Young said.

“It would need to be a lot, lot higher than any dose that’s being told to me (to cause illness).”

Health Minister Paul Lucas said the bungle was unacceptable.

“It’s not acceptable that we have had varying information of where the fluoride went,” Mr Lucas said.

“I know water reticulation systems are very, very complex … this is a very large water reticulation system.”

Opposition leader John-Paul Langbroek said he was disturbed by the disarray of the government after the errors.

”(Fluoride) is a great public health benefit but it needs to be done properly,” Mr Langbroek said.

“If we need to get independent experts to sort out the mess that has been created it clearly shows the government has bungled this.”