The long-running controversy over whether Petone gets an unfluoridated water supply is threatening to reignite a much wider debate.
An indication of how divisive it could become was given at Wednesday nights special meeting of Hutt City Council, which agreed to a deal with Wellington Regional Council to share the estimated $400,000 cost of reinstating an unfluoridated supply to Petone.
Cr John Austad said he wasn’t convinced Petone should get an unfluoridated supply on the basis of a survey in an arbitarily ring-fenced part of the city.
He said a lot of information on fluoride had been thrown around with religious fervour and suggested the issue be decided city-wide with a referendum at the next local elections.
Deputy Mayor Pat Brosnan and a number of other councillors said they would be opposed to removing fluoride from Lower Hutts water.
However, Cr Roger Styles said the basic issue was whether people had a right to decide if they wanted potentially hazardous chemicals in their water.
Announcing his plans to run a telephone survey of city residents, Cr Styles said he had read enough to convince him that fluoridation of drinking water is not just unnecessary, but potentially harmful to peoples health.
There was evidence fluoride caused chronic poisoning it weakened bones, caused allergic reactions, affected the liver and body enzymes.
He said everyone was just told it was good for kids teeth. No one was ever informed about the wider effects on peoples health.
Its a bit like smoking. I suppose people used to be assured that smoking was harmless too.
Cr Styles, who has just given up smoking, said he had also begun collecting his drinking water from an unfluoridated bore supply in Petone.
He added it would be easier. Cheaper and preferable to take Petones unfluoridated water out of the supply that feeds most of the city.
Mayor John Terris said the regional council was the appropriate authority to run a referendum, not the council. Evidence for and against fluoridation was finely balanced, he said.