AN anti-fluoridation campaigner says she is “not surprised” the Invercargill City Council (ICC) will continue fluoridating the city’s water supply.

The Ministry of Health promotes fluoridation as a safe and effective means of improving oral health, but the anti-fluoridation lobby says adding fluoride to water is ineffective in preventing tooth decay and equates to mass medication.

Invercargill’s water supply has been fluoridated since 1963.

Last year, the ICC received seven submissions asking it to review or cease fluoridation. Public Health South staff at the Southern District Health Board (SDHB) were asked to examine the submissions and prepare a report.

Medical officer of health Dr Marion Poore’s report, which went to the ICC last week, said the ICC should be “highly commended for making oral health such a high priority for over 50 ears with their excellent community water fluoridation system” and there was no evidence the practice was unsafe.

The report was noted and fluoridation will continue.

The timing of the report was ironic, as a visiting anti-fluoridation expert will speak in Invercargill tonight.

Dr Paul Connett, a retired professor of environmental chemistry and toxicology at St Lawrence University in the United States, is nearing the end of a month-long speaking tour organized by Fluoride Action New Zealand (FANNZ).

FANNZ national co-ordinator Mary Byrne said Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt had indicated he would meet Dr Connett and attend his Invercargill talk, being held at the Ascot Park Hotel at 7 pm.

However, she said she was not surprised the ICC followed Dr Poore’s advice, as DHBs around the country had a very strong view that fluoridation should continue.

DHBs had been asked to provide a speaker to either debate Dr Connett at public meetings or to put the pro-fluoride viewpoint, but all had refused, Ms Byrne said.

“We feel it is better for people to hear both sides of the argument but the DHBs won’t do it.”

Dr Tim McKay, of Public Health South in Invercargill, attended last week;’s council meeting and spoke to Dr Poore;s report.

Contacted after the meeting, he said fluoridation had the backing of many groups including the Royal Society and the World Health Organisation, and Public Health South was “very happy with our position”.

“There was no debate” about fluoridation being a health hazard, he said.

Ms Byrne said there definitely was debate. Three North Island councils in the past 18 months had stopped fluoridation and three more councils were currently reviewing usage.

“For him to say that shows how the DHBs have their heads stuck in the sand.”