Queensland Forced to Bite the Fluoride Bullet

Published in Kindred issue 25 as part of The Flouride Debate – are we poisoning our children?

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh’s recent decision to introduce fluoride to the state’s water supplies means 80 per cent of Queenslanders could be drinking fluoridated water within two years, growing to more than 90 per cent by 2012.

Ms Bligh said the move would tackle the poor condition of Queenslanders’ oral health, though many citizens think otherwise. Angus Macqueen, treasurer of Queenslanders Against Water Fluoridation, stated to Kindred recently that he estimates more than 20 per cent of Queenlanders are strongly opposed to fluoridation and the proportion would be much greater if citizens could be properly informed. ‘But many people accept the government’s assurances which after all follow the propaganda from the American and Australian Dental Associations for the last 40-50 years,’ he says. ‘And remember the ADA is a political organisation that primarily looks after dentists’ agendas rather than teeth or, indeed, health.’ He pointed out that most dentists in their training have absorbed a strong pro-fluoride message.

Premier Bligh said the decision was based on scientific evidence and public support based on that evidence. But this interpretation of the science is being brought into question by many. ‘The propaganda being put out by the Government is unconscionable. They have a very well-funded program of lies and distortions,’ said Macqueen. ‘They are saying it is safe (no safety studies have ever been done on the fluoridation chemicals); will result in 40-65 per cent reduction in decay (this is distortion and manipulation of old data, which actually show differences in average decay rates of less than half a tooth per individual); is OK for baby formula (it is not), contradicting the Australian Dental Association’s own recommendation; that water fluoridation has not been banned in Europe (it has, in most countries) and the list goes on.’ Macqueen continues, ‘They have installed laminated “facts” signs listing the above in public toilets and other places. It is outright fraud, driven by a government that, poorly advised and thus in ignorance of the real situation, wants to ride rough-shod over public opinion.’

While Ms Bligh’s language would imply the decision is a done deal, the Parliament has yet to vote on the decision. And given that the decision was announced just prior to Christmas, many will be voting on it with little time for proper research.

The government would spend $35 million on capital works to roll out the program.

The three fluoride chemicals that could be added to Queensland water supplies for fluoridation are hydrofluorosilicic acid, sodium silicofluoride or sodium fluoride. These are the chemicals used in other Australian states’ fluoridation schemes. The two silicofluoride chemicals used are waste products of phosphate fertiliser manufacturing. They are industrial grade, not pharmaceutical grade products and can contain small residues of toxic heavy metals such as cadmium, mercury or lead.

The Queensland Government has said they would pay the setting up costs of fluoridation but will not be paying for any recurrent and ongoing costs. Any fluoride-caused corrosion problems in water treatment plants or water reticulation systems would be to the future cost of Councils and ratepayers.

‘We believe that the only way this might be stopped is through a legal challenge,’ says Macqueen.

If you would like to contribute to the no-fluoridation campaign in Queensland, go to www.qawf.org

[See the March 08 Kindred Spirit, Kindred’s free monthly e-newsletter, for more stories on this, including apologies from previous health ministers. Visit to sign up for our newsletter’]

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