Council to vote on fluoride

The NSW Health Department is “strongly” urging councillors to vote in favour of water fluoridation during this week’s council meeting.

At the September 20 council meeting, councillors resolved to defer a decision on adding fluoride to the Tantawanglo-Kiah and Brogo-Bermagui water supplies following presentations by concerned community members.

NSW director of public health for the Murrumbidgee and Southern NSW Health Districts Tracey Oakman has responded to the deputations, referencing a recent National Health and Medical Research Council review.

“After a wide-ranging evaluation of evidence, NHMRC concluded that there is no reliable evidence water fluoridation causes any negative health effects,” Ms Oakman said.

During a public consultation on the issue, council received a total of 332 valid submissions, with 86 per cent against fluoridation. 

However, Ms Oakman said the figures “cannot be relied upon to represent the opinion of the whole community”.

Ms Oakman also responded to concerns raised by Bermagui resident Rob Slazenger of the possibility of fluoride overdosing in the system.

“There have been two single day results in 2009 and 2010 where the fluoride concentration of water entering the Bega supply system exceeded the upper operational limit,” she said.

According to the department, a measurement of 1.97 mg/L was recorded in January of 2009, and 1.53 mg/L was recorded in April 2010.

The target concentration of fluoride in NSW drinking water is 1 milligram per litre, with an operational range of 0.9 mg/L to 1.5 mg/L.

“The issues were managed by council staff, and the fluoride concentration was returned to the operational range by the following day.” Ms Oakman said.

After an equipment problem was identified, the fluoridation system was “completely replaced” in 2011, she said.

Councillors also have the option of referring the decision to NSW Health secretary Elizabeth Koff.