A PAINSTAKING debate on whether Mackay’s water supply should continue to be fluoridated will begin in coming weeks, says Mackay Regional Council mayor Greg Williamson.

For now, getting the council’s budget out of the way will be the number one priority for recently elected councillors.

“Fluoride in Queensland, not just Mackay, has been on again, off again for a long time,” Cr Williamson said.

“At the moment, Mackay Regional Council’s supply is fluoridated and I know, throughout the election campaign, there was enormous pressure, as every time there’s an election, for the newly elected council to debate it.

“We haven’t got to that point yet but we promised during the campaign there would be and we will.

“We have to get a budget out the way first of all and then we will have a serious debate where council will decide once again whether to keep the fluoride in our water supply.

“And that’s within the jurisdiction of councils, as handed back to councils by State Government a few years ago, when they had a go at it and decided it was too fraught with danger for them to rule on it.”

Cr Williamson said “we probably will take a month or even six weeks to get it through”.

“We’ll need a full council meeting…it may go through council’s committee structure first of all.”

“I promise we’ll have the debate. We’ll hand down the budget on June 22 and we’ll have the debate on fluoride after that and get both sides of the story

Cr Williamson said it was a very emotive subject “and there’s stalwarts on both sides of the house”.

“There will no doubt be a very lively debate, wildly supported by the public on both sides.

“My son’s a dentist, so I know how fluoride in a water supply can assist in young growth in terms of teeth in young children.

“From my own perspective, I have a philosophical viewpoint about an aversion about any government, at any level putting things into the public water supply.

“For me, it’s also a very personalised debate…we’ve got to put the pros and cons on the table, have a robust debate and council will make a decision.

“There’s a substantial cost associated with it, but you can’t just say the cost will disappear from the ratepayer’s budget immediately if we just turn the switch off – and it is as simple as that, just turning a switch off.

“But if we did that who knows when a future State Government or local government will mandate fluoride goes back into the water supply.

“So all the equipment, for the sake of it being there, would have to be maintained.”

Cr Williamson guessed the council vote for or against fluoride “might be reasonably tight”.

What You’ve Said

  • In an informal poll by the Daily Mercury asking whether you believe Mackay LGA’s water should be fluoridated, 26% said yes and 73% said no.
  • Website user SteveS wrote: The mayor should understand that we ingest fluoride in our water, fluoridated or not. Fluoridation simply ensures that we obtain maximum benefit while so doing – Steven D. Slott, DDS, Information Director, American Fluoridation Society.
  • ColinV wrote: Dentists and Councillors, are acting outside their areas of expertise. that is unethical, and can be reported to the QLD Health Ombudsman. They are not pharmacologists, toxicologists, endocrinologists, neurologists and epidemiologists.
  • DavidG wrote: I guess it must be the time to run through the over-exposure to fluoride by infants fed exclusively formula mixed with fluoridated water.
  • BarbOfGladstone wrote: I met a man in his late 60’s recently who was born in America and had fluoride all his life. I said to him that he must have good teeth. He replied, they are all plastic. I asked him what happened to his teeth. He said they all fell out.
  • jwillie66 wrote: Fluoride toothpaste applied to the tooth surface may help, but people everywhere are learning that fluoride in drinking water is ineffective for teeth and dangerous to health.

Fluoridation – Research Ongoing

  • Fluoride is a natural mineral found in the Earth’s crust and widely distributed in the natural world
  • Australian water fluoridation began in the 1950s. Currently Mackay LGA is fluoridated, as recommended by Queensland Health, but not forced by the State Government since 2012.
  • It costs Mackay council (namely, its ratepayers) about $250,000 a year – $2.80 per person.
  • Fluoride-containing compounds like sodium fluoride or sodium monofluorophosphate are used in topical (toothpaste) and systemic (water fluoridation) fluoride therapy for preventing tooth decay.
  • US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers water fluoridation “one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century” – it is also widely supported by more than 150 major health organisations worldwide.
  • A National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) 2006 review showed fluoridation is safe and effective for preventing tooth decay and there is inadequate evidence to support “measurable harm to human health”.
  • However, NHMRC is undertaking more research and a Final Information Paper will be issued in early to mid 2017.
  • Some global research has linked fluoride to various health conditions – a Harvard University meta-analysis funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found children who live in areas with highly fluoridated water (above Australian levels) have “significantly lower” IQ scores.
  • Fluoridation’s affect on the thyroid endocrine glands is hotly debated – one study by the University of Kent in England showed correlation between the amount of fluoride in drinking water and a rise in the incidence of underactive thyroid, but various other studies have not linked fluoridation with thyroid issues.
  • If you’re concerned about fluoridation you can use bottled water, reverse osmosis and filtered water
  • (Various Sources)