Fluoride Action Network

Queensland. Fluoride underdosing and plant headaches: health breaches

Source: The Courier-Mail | January 3rd, 2010 | By Patrick Lion
Location: Australia

SOUTHEAST Queensland’s fluoridated water is still in breach of health regulations almost a year after the roll-out of the controversial policy.

SEQWater is still struggling to get the concentration of the chemical right, with underdosing at one of the five treatment plants in the most recent September quarter, while another plant remained out of action.

Queensland Health reports that were released to The Courier-Mail reveal three other sites across Brisbane and the Gold Coast also underdosed supplies in the second quarter to June last year.

But SEQWater has dismissed concerns over the reliability of the plants and insisted the erroneous levels were expected but should be eliminated in the next quarterly report.

The lingering errors come after revelations last year that all five plants failed to hit their marks and underdosed residents in the first three months of the roll-out.

But now the two subsequent quarters show that while accuracy is improving, errors are still occurring.

Water supplies should be fluoridated between 0.7mg/L and 0.9mg/L. But in the three months to June 30, plants at North Pine (0.34mg/L), Mt Crosby (0.44mg/L) and Mudgeeraba (0.54mg/L) all missed the regulated range.

In the September quarter, the Molendinar plant on the Gold Coast recorded an average of 0.68mg/L. North Pine was still offline after an overdose debacle in May when Brisbane residents received 20 times the allowable limit.

Natural Resources Minister Stephen Robertson yesterday welcomed the reports’ accountability to the public.

“I look forward to seeing the concentrations reaching the regulated range in the new year,” he said.

Authorities only have to comply on an average basis over the quarter to meet regulations but the reports show every plant has days when as little as 0.01mg/L is recorded.

Anything over 0.4mg/L on average has health benefits.

Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek said the results raised more questions about promises the roll-out would be safe and controlled.

“What we are seeing, time and time again, is water suppliers failing to meet the standards for fluoride delivery,” Mr Langbroek said.

An SEQWater spokesman expected the all clear next quarter after a “conservative approach” until now.