The Bay’s health boss is being criticised for refusing to take part in a public debate on the pros and cons of adding fluoride to the Hastings water supply.

International toxicologist and expert on fluoridation Paul Connett will be in Hawke’s Bay this month to talk at public meetings about his research into fluoride.

He’s been invited by Fluoride Free Hastings which is campaigning to remove use of the chemical leading up to a referendum on the matter in October. The group had invited the district health board’s chief executive Kevin Snee to take part in a debate with Dr Connett.

Mr Snee, in a letter to the group’s spokeswoman Angela Hair, declined the offer and said the debate would not provide any additional information to help better inform people before they make a decision on how to vote at the referendum.

“We strongly believe a debate with Mr Connett will minimise the importance of the issue and the need for clear scientific facts and focus, instead, on a theatre-style debate which will further propagate myths and unscientific reasoning.”

He said the DHB met Dr Connett in 2010 when he addressed Hastings District Council and it did not believe a further meeting or debate would have any value.

Ms Hair said Dr Connett will visit on February 27 and 28. He will speak to Hastings, Havelock North and Flaxmere people to present up-to-date research of the negative health effects of fluoride and examine the questionable science that has been the justification for water fluoridation in Hastings.

“In view of the upcoming referendum, Fluoride Free Hastings believe the district health board, at the very least, should be explaining the 12 year old dental data that shows there is very little difference between fluoridated Hastings and non-fluoridated Napier when controlled for socio-economic status.

“They should also be explaining why there has been no significant monitoring of fluoride toxicity, despite the fact that a third of children in fluoridated areas have white spots on their teeth called fluorosis, a sign of fluoride toxicity.”

Ms Hair described fluoridation as a drug added to the water supply “without the consent of the people”.