TIME is beginning to tick for the Bundaberg region to come on board with water fluoridation, with Bundaberg Regional Council required to have its systems upgraded within two years.
Bundaberg region mayor Lorraine Pyefinch said the council had started work on preliminary measures but the region’s water needs were unique.
“Our situation is fairly complicated because we have several points where we have to install the infrastructure,” she said.
Despite at least four plants needing an upgrade, the council is still in the early planning stages.
“We’ve had consultants look at the treatment plants and give quotes,” Cr Pyefinch said.
Cr Pyefinch said it was estimated the upgrades would cost around $2.5 million, which would be fully subsidised by the state government.
The new state government legislation requires any town with a population of more than 1000 to have fluoride added to their water supply.
Cr Pyefinch said the council was unsure if Gin Gin, which has a population of about 950, would be included in the upgrades, and was currently awaiting a reply from the Health Department.
Plants which will be upgraded include Bundaberg City, Moore Park, Kalkie — which also supplies areas from Burnett Heads to Elliott Heads — and Woodgate and Childers.
East Bundaberg resident John West said he was against the move because he thought it was a personal choice to ingest fluoride.
“Those that do want fluoride can go to the chemist and get fluoride tablets,” he said.
Mr West was also concerned about the unknown health implications from consuming constant amounts of fluoride.
Experts are unable to agree on the safety of fluoridation.
Dr Meenakshi Arora, University of Melbourne research fellow for chemical and biomolecular engineering and a supporter of fluoridation, told a press conference on the subject: “It definitely and significantly reduces the risk of dental caries. But we need to be careful not to overdose people, especially kids in the age range of two to seven years.”
However, Dr Mark Diesendorf, University of New South Wales Institute of Environmental Studies deputy director, said fluoridation of drinking water was unsafe, ineffective and unethical.
“It causes skeletal fluorosis, a disease of bones and joints that manifests as arthritis in the early stages, but can evolve over decades into abnormal bone growth and calcification of joints,” Dr Diesendorf said.