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Fluoridation in the water still troubling for some

In brief
  • Bloomfield mandated local councils to add fluoride to water supplies, when some had chosen not to.
  • This is despite conflicting conclusions on its safety and effectiveness, including a draft landmark US government study, questioning the effects on brain development.
  • This is the classic struggle between those who favour more natural health and those who are inclined towards drugs or chemicals.
  • National supported local councils losing the right to decide. 

Local councils ordered to add fluoride to water

Before his departure as Director-General of Health, Dr. Ashley Bloomfield ordered Local councils to add fluoride to their water supplies. Fourteen local authorities received this order, and over $11 million is allocated by the Ministry of Health to support fluoridation projects. 

Western Bay of Plenty’s council has voted to seek an exemption from the order, saying they want to be cautious. 

The Health (Fluoridation of Drinking Water) Amendment Act 2021 shifted the decision-making authority on water fluoridation from local authorities to the Director-General of Health. The order used a 2018 supreme court case as justification, claiming that fluoridation doesn’t breach an individual’s right to refuse medical treatment. 

Bloomfield emphasised that water fluoridation is safe and effective for preventing tooth decay. 

That is just his opinion and many disagree. But is there conclusive science?

Fluoridation in the water still troubling for some - Centrist
According to the courts, fluoridating water doesn’t breach your right to refuse a medical treatment.

Large US study aims to review fluoride exposure

Mary Byrne raised the point of a large meta analysis study put out by the National Toxicology Program in the US. The release of the full study has been delayed by the Department of Health and Human Services, who have flagged concerns about scientific integrity and potential political interference. 

The study was designed to review existing research on fluoride exposure and its effects on brain development and abilities. Researchers analysed relevant studies conducted on humans, animals, and cells. They found a total of 149 human studies, 339 animal studies, and 60 studies on cells that were related to their objective. 

Among the human studies, 82 focused on the association between fluoride exposure and brain development or thinking abilities in children, while others looked at different effects such as thyroid problems. 

As with many controversial things, there is support for the pro and con side of the argument, and serious people are still doing work on it.

Cautions raised 

Human studies often suggested high levels of fluoride exposure are linked to lower IQ in children. They also found evidence suggesting that fluoride may affect brain development in children. When it comes to adults the evidence is limited and inconclusive, as there are only two studies available.

The researchers in this study also noted a lack of research into other neurodevelopmental side effects of fluoride beyond IQ. The mechanisms underlying the cognitive effects of fluoride are not well understood. 

National in favour of putting fluoride in our water

National MP Shane Reti was questioned in regards to his support of fluoridation of water supplies. Reti says he strongly believes the science is settled on the matter, and that his constituents (Whangārei) in particular, are in great need of more fluoride in their water.

You can avoid the fluoride but it will cost you

There are ways of removing at least much of the fluoride, or you can buy non fluoridated water. “It’s only money.”

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