Sunshine Coast residents will be drinking fluoridated water by January 2009, as the state government implements the first stage of its water fluoridation plan.
Work is in progress at south-east Queensland water treatment plants, including Landers Shute near Palmwoods, to phase in water fluoridation.
While public debate rages on the issue, Maleny dentist Dr Martin Webb said water fluoridation was the safest and most effective way to ingest fluoride, and people were often misinformed about the potential harmful effects of fluoridation.
“What we’re finding is that people in fluoridated areas are getting less root decay than those people who are living in unfluoridated areas,” Dr Webb said.
Dr Webb, former president of the Australian Dental Association Queensland branch, said a recent survey showed about 75% of the community supported fluoridation.
“As a preventive health measure, the introduction of fluoride has some opposition on the grounds of health risks and that it is a breach of civil liberties,” Dr Webb said.
“But the government has decided to listen to the compelling scientific argument from the rest of the country and the rest of the world.”
Queensland Health is overseeing the $35 million state-wide rollout, following the endorsement of a new Water Fluoridation Act in March 2008.
More than half of Queensland will have fluoridated water by January 2009, and 80% of the state will have fluoridated water within two years.
Dr Webb said people who didn’t want to drink fluoridated water could buy bottled or spring water, or install reverse-osmosis water filtration systems in their homes.
The public debate against water fluoridation is led by Queenslanders for Safe Water, Air and Food, an association that advocates fluoride-free water pending a referendum, and government rebates for reverse-osmosis water filters in fluoridated areas.
Association president Merilyn Haines argued that water fluoridation was “mass medication”.
“Water is life-giving,” Mrs Haines said.
“We can’t live without water and we shouldn’t be contaminating our water.
“Putting fluoride in water is medicating people, and the government has no right to medicate us through our public water supply or medicate us in any way at all without our consent.”
Queenslanders for Safe Water, Air and Food will continue its campaign.