Representatives from NSW Health have presented to council on the issue of water fluoridation just days before a National Health and Medical Research Council evaluation of evidence is due to be released.
On Wednesday, NSW Health’s Dr Ben Scalley and Dr John Skinner put forward their case to councillors for the use of fluoride as a public health intervention measure.
“It’s not only cost effective, it’s cost saving,” Dr Skinner told councillors.
They estimated the cost per household of the additional fluoride to water supplies across Bega Valley at $10 a year, with estimated savings of between five and 20 dollars to the community for every dollar invested.
Bega and Tathra water has been fluoridated since 1963.
“Water fluoridation does not cause any negative health outcomes,” Dr Scalley said.
He said papers showing negative health effects were “quick and dirty” ways of looking at “a large range of outcomes”, that contains “doubtful research” that did not delve into “confounding” factors.
Cr Jo Dodds said she saw “insufficient evidence to draw a conclusion”, while Cr Kristy McBain questioned why council must make the decision.
Cr Mitchell Nadin and Cr Sharon Tapscott questioned the absence of local studies.
“I’m really unhappy about making a decision without that [local] data,” Cr Tapscott said.
Cr Cathy Griff questioned the absence of the latest NHMRC data from the presentation.
Former epidemiologist Rob Slazenger, who was at the forum, said he has received data on Bega fluoridation dating back to 2001 from the department, and claims some data is missing.
“We are going to go through it with a fine toothed comb,” he said.
Bermagui’s Anthony Herford was concerned money was being invested in fluoride, instead of fixing the Brogo water catchment issue.
“We’re always concerned, because if we have a storm we have to boil water or it could be shutdown, which means we don’t have a healthy water supply,” Mr Herford said.