WHILE nine councils have opted to turn off their fluoride taps after the State Government put the decision in the hands of local governments earlier this year, the Southern Downs is not considering following suit.
Fluoride was introduced to the water supply in Warwick and Stanthorpe in 2011, after Queensland Premier Anna Bligh made it compulsory in 2008 to help fight off plaque and conquer the State’s decaying teeth.
But when the government changed, new Premier Campbell Newman and Health Minister Lawrence Springborg announced that the decision would be up to local councils.
Following the announcement, Cairns, Bundaberg, Fraser Coast, Cloncurry, Burdekin Shire, North Burnett, South Burnett, Tablelands and Doomadgee Aboriginal councils have flushed fluoride from their water.
A Southern Downs Regional Council spokeswoman said the issue was not on the council’s agenda at this stage.
“Council’s CEO does not consider that this matter needs to be addressed unless the community raises significant concerns about council continuing to fluoridate Warwick and Stanthorpe water supplies,” she said.
“He has discussed the matter with councillors and there does not appear to be any support for this to be on council’s agenda at this stage.”
Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service senior oral health therapist Lisa Rippon said fluoride was beneficial.
“As an oral health care professional I completely agree with water fluoridation,” she said.
“Throughout my extensive clinical career it is always obvious those clients that have received fluoride compared to those that haven’t.
“Decay rates are generally much higher in those who have not. In reducing dental decay it reduces the risk of loss of teeth, time away from work or school, and requirements for dental treatment under general anaesthesia.
“Many millions of people throughout the world now receive water with adjusted fluoride concentrations; this includes about 13.5 million people in Australia.”
Ms Rippon said it was too early to tell if adding fluoride to the water had decreased the rate of tooth decay across the Southern Downs.
“For change to be accurately and scientifically measured with regards to water fluoridation and its effects on decay rates it would need to be conducted in at least a few more years time, with proper scientific and research data and documentation,” she said.
Retired nutrition biochemist Henry Osiecki, who worked for the Brisbane City Council’s fluoride committee, was against the decision to introduce it.
Mr Osiecki’s concerns relate to the cumulative effect fluoride can have on the body.
“Toxins start accumulating,” he said.
“It might take 40 years for some people to get it.
“Things will start happening in the body including arthritis. They are all problems caused by fluoride.”
Mr Osiecki said the main issue was the dose.
“Towns that had fluoride for 40-50 years now have issues with chronic disease,” he said.
“It is a cumulative dose, depending on how much water people drink a day.
“It is a drug that is going into the water and should be regulated.”
Mike Geisel, a dentist from Southern Downs Dental, said fluoride had benefits for people of all ages.
“It is hugely effective at reducing tooth decay,” he said.
“I’ve heard people say they can just have fluoride tablets, but this is not right.
“It can only help children aged up to 12. In the water it helps everyone.
“It has been effective in treating decay for the elderly.”