The new Sustainable Water Strategy document recommends a Melbourne-Geelong pipeline as a longer term supply strategy. Minister Thwaites confirmed this and possible fluoridation for Geelong in the Advertiser (20/4). The DSE document though, and Jim Cousins’ discussion of it (Advertiser 5/5) were deafening in their silence on fluoridation, the chief obstacle to the interconnection.
The silence is despite the earlier Department of Sustainability and Environment discussion document and the public consultation at Kardinia Park last November highlighting Geelong people’s aversion to being fluoridated. Fluoride battles with government are raging right across regional Victoria.
In Horsham on April 4th, Health Minister Bronwyn Pike announced people would not be given the referendum they want, saying “the jury is in on fluoride and its benefits”. While the jury may be in for the Minister and her chief advisor Dr Robert Hall, the jury is out according to international experts and scientific reviews.
Mass fluoridation through drinking water is a peculiarly 1950s idea, a time when DDT was sprayed around with abandon, asbestos was in everything, and new wonder chemicals were going to solve mankind’s problems.
Reports of fluoride-related health harm emerged from the beginning, and have steadily increased. Evidence for benefits has been mixed at best, with many of the countries with the healthiest teeth being non-fluoridators in Europe. In March this year a 470 page report from the USA’s National Research Council showed that many of the harmful effects of fluoride result from much smaller doses than generally believed.
“The difference between the levels of fluoride causing toxic effects and the levels added to water to prevent tooth decay is vanishingly small and deeply troubling”, said Dr William Hirzy, head of the professional union of scientists working at the EPA.
The research council panel were referring particularly to bone disease, bone fracture, nervous system impairment and tooth damage. Now a team at Harvard University has published their finding that boys consuming fluoride have a much higher rate of developing osteosarcoma, a bone cancer.
The fluoride can come from water or from tablets, so comparing a fluoridated city to non-fluoridated does not detect the problem. On Channel 7 (27/4) Professor Noel Campbell of Water Quality Australia stated that he considered it medical negligence to introduce fluoridation while the bone cancer link was being further investigated.
Serious questions need answering. Why does Victoria not cease fluoridation, given the risks appear to outweigh the benefits? Will a referendum on fluoride be conducted for this region?
David McRae is a Geelong resident committee member of Water Quality Australia Inc.