THE Southland District Council policy review committee yesterday voted against recommending the fluoridation of district water supplies.
The decision, if ratified at the district council meeting this month, spells the death knell for a proposal that has been hotly debated by the pro and anti-fluoridation lobbies since May last year.
Chief executive David Adamson said the council would ask the Southland District Health Board for a new approach to combating a proven child tooth decay problem in Southland.
Mr Adamson said three main reasons convinced the committee to reject the proposal.
Community concerns about fluoride remained, as did concerns about its effectiveness in fighting tooth decay. The importance of individual choice also came through strongly, he said.
“The committee feel they have had a robust consultation phase.” Committee members yesterday heard from 18 people who wanted to talk about their submissions on fluoridation.
The council last month called for submissions from residents in 11 district towns.
Between 2 and 5 percent of residents replied. About 160 people in total wrote to the council expressing their concerns.
Ten wrote in support of fluoridation.
The council also received a petition signed by 300 Winton residents opposed to fluoridation, which is about 15 percent of the town’s people.
Most people opposed to fluoridation say in their submissions they are worried about adding the chemical to water or felt there are less intrusive ways to improve dental health.
A few say they are also concerned about the annual costs.
Former dental nurse Megan Bourke, of Manapouri, said she was opposed to “mass medication” and that poor nutrition and dental hygiene were the real factors behind tooth decay.
“As an ex-school dental nurse myself, I too was indoctrinated to believe the so-called facts about fluoridation. I am now totally and stridently opposed.” In his submission, principal dental officer Tim Mackay said water fluoridation in rural Southland would reduce dental decay by about 37 percent.
Mr Mackay could not be reached last night for comment on the decision.