WHITSUNDAY councillors must soon decide whether or not to fluoridate the region’s potable water supply.
People on both sides of the argument spoke at a public information session in Proserpine on Tuesday night.
Speaking for the pro-fluoride camp were Queensland Health water program director Dr Greg Jackson, Brisbane Dental Hospital director Dr Michael Foley and Townsville Public Health physician Dr Steven Donohue.
The three pro-fluoride speakers said fluoride was not a medication or a waste product and that fluoridation was simply about topping up the natural levels of fluoride in water, for optimum dental health.
Dr Foley said as a dentist he found tooth decay, particularly in children, “pretty soul-destroying stuff”.
“I’ve taken out far too many teeth and I’m sick of it when we have a proven, preventative measure,” he said.
Speaking from the anti-fluoride camp was co-founder of Queenslanders for Safe Water, Air and Food Inc, Merilyn Haines.
Ms Haines told the story of her sister, who developed dermatitis when she was exposed to fluoridated water.
“My sister is one example of a person who is chemically sensitive to fluoride. There are many others,” she said.
Ms Haines claimed fluoride was toxic, “unethical, mass medication”, where the dosage depended on how much water a person drank.
She said if there was one thing proven to reduce tooth decay; it was education, not fluoride.
The speakers received an interesting reception from the more lively members of the crowd Andrew Finlay, who set up the region’s anti-fluoride campaign titled Whitsunday Takedown Fluoride said he found the session informative from both sides of the debate.
“(But) we didn’t really have an opportunity for a proper public exchange of questions and answers that you would generally expect,” he said.
Whitsunday Mayor Jennifer Whitney said she thought the two-and-a-half hour session was perhaps a little long for people to “take everything in”.
“It was great information though, and what it was about was to provide the arguments for and against, so that people do go home with the information they need to debate effectively within the community,” Cr Whitney said.