I HAVE been following Oberon’s fluoridation debate with interest. I am pro-fluoridation, but have regarded opposing views with an open mind and respecting democratic expression.
However, I have grown dispirited by the scaremongering, pernicious comments made by certain anti-fluoridation campaigners who hiss out words like “poison”, “toxic industrial waste product”, “travelling circus” and “end the fluoride madness” when referring to fluoridation or to those dentists who have the courtesy and courage to visit Oberon.
These anti-fluoridationists are not responding to factual evidence about Oberon’s current dental health, yet have endless research statistics regarding fluorosis in India or Europe or elephants in zoos or poisoned possums or kangaroos near aluminium smelters. I am aware of some erstwhile anti-fluoridation supporters who have lost respect for these campaigners and even the NSW Minister for Health, Brad Hazzard, hoping for a more consultative debate within the community, describes them as having “lots of fury and not much facts (and) the same genetic makeup as the anti vaxxers” (SMH, June 15).
I commend Brian Dellow for his erudite, measured response regarding the debate (Oberon Review, June 14) and how, when fluoride “is used in the appropriate dilution it has been found to be safe”. Note that Dr Dellow argues for “appropriate dilution” and not for fluoridation at any cost.
A less respectful debate is being pushed by Oberon anti-fluoride campaigners who depict themselves as crusading heroes with secret and subversive information that will “save” residents from “industrial waste” poisoning. They insist fluoride is their enemy, but their real enemy is scientific rigour and regard for factual research.
For example, on June 11, Janet Poole’s letter condemning fluoridation stated that the Cochrane Collaboration was funded by Colgate (https://bit.ly/2LM85ph) and that its research proved water fluoridation does not work. Both claims are untrue. The highly regarded Cochrane Collaboration, which provides informed medical research, “never accepts commercial or conflicted funding and works freely unconstrained by commercial and financial interests” (www.cochrane.org). Furthermore, key results of their research on fluoridation state: “Our review found that water fluoridation is effective at reducing levels of tooth decay among children.”
The crusaders’ claims about direct damage by fluoride in drinking water in India and Mexico are proven, but the drinking water in those areas is not community fluoridated water. It is unregulated water from natural bores or aquifers containing excessive fluoride deposits which can lead to fluorosis of teeth and bones. This bears no relation to our Oberon water supply, which has nil or minimal natural fluoride deposits.
Compare Papua New Guinea’s hydrological make-up regarding fluoride, not dissimilar to Australia’s, with fluoride levels being very low and fluoridation strongly proposed in the form of fluoridated salt as water supply is unstable. The high levels of child dental decay I observed as resident in PNG seems the norm for many Oberon children now.
Oberon’s anti-fluoridation crusaders also state that fluoridation is not popular or has been stopped in Europe. It is popular, but is mostly provided through fluoridation of salt and milk, not water, because variables in the fluoridation of water throughout the hydrological landscape within relatively small geographic regions require diverse and difficult-to-implement forms of governance regarding fluoride regulation.
It is time for the anti-fluoridation crusaders to locate their debate within the specific socio-economic population and hydrological environment that is Oberon and surrounds and to research the urgent need of safely regulated fluoridated water for growing children in this region.
We, in Oberon and many areas in Australia, are blessed with safe, regulated water systems. We do not face the same variations of naturally occurring fluoride levels in water that numerous other countries must manage where those levels may be excessive or lacking.
It’s time to end the madness. It may, after all, be Oberon’s children and future generations who do the cursing if certain anti-fluoridation campaigners clown around with the fluoridation debate. We need to remember that it takes a whole village to raise a child and that village needs to demonstrate rationality and local wisdom.
*Original letter online at http://fluoridealert.org/news/oberon-letter-crusaders-real-enemy-is-scientific-rigour/
**See response by Janet Poole