Saturday, December 15, 2012

FAN's Story of Australia's Mandated Fluoride - How it Started and How it Ended

Fluoride Action
In this bulletin we hear from Merilyn Haines, FAN-Australia, who explains the background to the exciting news that the Queensland government has lifted its mandatory requirement that every town be fluoridated. It is now up to each community to decide. This news – and the news that certain MPs are calling for a ban on fluoridation altogether- has led to a furor in the media. Some of the editorials have been every bit as nasty and ill-informed as those we have seen recently in the US in other communities that have stopped fluoridation

Merilyn Haines’ report from Australia: Cleaning up after the perfect storm of forced fluoridation in Queensland.
Mandatory fluoridation in Queensland has just ended, almost 5 years to the day the previous (and unelected) Qld Labor Premier Anna Bligh announced her decision to force fluoridation on 4 million Queenslanders.
The new LNP government on the 29th Nov overturned the mandatory requirement allowing Queensland Councils to make decisions whether to start, continue or cease fluoridation. Immediately some Qld Councils have said that they will not be fluoridating the towns in their jurisdiction. Several other Qld councils have indicated that they may cease. The larger councils in SE Qld with interconnected water supplies will be looking at the issues involved in the New Year.
Activists for safe drinking water (i.e. no fluoride) will have their work ahead of them cleaning up after the fluoride storm, working to get all of Queensland de – fluoridated, but it is now possible and do-able.
It is interesting to look back and note the planned steps that took place for forced fluoridation to have occurred. Firstly the Qld govt bought Qld council water supplies at a rock bottom price. The Qld govt then built a water grid for drought proofing that interconnected most of the water supplies in SE Qld, over half of the state’s population.
In 2006, behind the scenes, the Queensland Dental Association asked the Qld govt for $200, 000 to help the Dental Association promote fluoridation and “counter the antis.” The then Qld Health Minister gave the Qld Dental Assn the $200,000 with no strings attached. Over the next 2 years, the Qld Dental Assn collected 25,000 signatures on a non-conforming pro-fluoridation petition and presented it to the Qld govt. Premier Bligh then used this petition as ammunition and justification for her decision to force fluoridation on the whole state.
In early 2007, the Qld Medical Assn wrote to the Qld govt saying that the govt MUST mandate fluoridation on the whole state and to use the water grid as an opportunity to do this. Premier Bligh then used the “endorsements” from the Queensland Medical and Dental Associations to justify forced fluoridation.
When Premier Bligh announced her forced fluoridation decision in late 2007, documents show that she based her decision on a study published in 1996 comparing child tooth decay in Townsville (the only large fluoridated town in Qld) to the unfluoridated capital Brisbane.1 The Qld govt portrayed that there was 65% less tooth decay in Townsville children. However, this study showed for permanent teeth in children aged 6 to 12 years old there was an average difference of only 0.23 less decayed tooth surfaces in Townsville children compared to Brisbane children. The Townsville children had a lifetime exposure of fluoridated water compared to no exposure for Brisbane children.
The Townsville Brisbane study had measured tooth decay in tooth surfaces (a more sensitive method) rather than number of teeth with decay. Each tooth has either 4 or 5 surfaces, when a child has 28 teeth, they have 128 tooth surfaces. It was discovered that dentally trained staff in Qld Health had portrayed that the difference was the number of decayed teeth, when it was really a difference of tooth surfaces. This was similar to saying that 100 kilojoules is the same as 100 calories, or that 100 km per hour is the same as 100 miles per hour. By doing this they mis-portrayed and exaggerated any difference in tooth decay. This was tantamount to fraud.
Premier Bligh ignored data from the then most recently published Australian surveys showing that children from two heavily fluoridated states had more, or similar decay in their permanent teeth than did children from non- fluoridated Qld. Premier Bligh also ignored data from the then current, and 2 previous, Qld children’s dental surveys showing that children from fluoridated Townsville had more tooth decay in their permanent teeth (the teeth they have for life ) than several large non-fluoridated Qld Health Districts. Later we discovered that data from the second national Australian adult oral health survey2 showed that was no difference in tooth decay between adults in the heavily fluoridated Australian states and unfluoridated Qld, even though these states had been fluoridated for 40 or more years.
The Qld govt in 2007 and 2008 conducted a massive advertising campaign that Queensland had the worst tooth decay in Australia and that fluoridation was proven safe. Those actions affirmed the ploy that “if you tell a lie big enough and often enough, that people will believe it.”
When Premier Bligh was booted out of office earlier this year she left Qld in a dire financial situation. The Qld Labor Party now only has 7 MPs left. Forced fluoridation was just one of Premier Bligh’s bigger mistakes. Now we are left with the mess.
We are very pleased that the new Qld govt has now taken the first huge step and has overturned mandatory fluoridation in Queensland. The change would not have occurred without 3 core LNP MPs (led by Jason Woodforth, who is now being viciously attacked in the media) and 29 more of their MP colleagues who successfully lobbied the new Premier and Health Minister to end mandatory fluoridation. There will now be interesting times ahead in Queensland. Watch this space.
(1)Caries experience among children in fluoridated Townsville and unfluoridated Brisbane. Slade GD. Spencer AJ, Davies MJ, Stewart JF. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 1996 vol 20 No 6
(2) State and Territory reports of the AIHW National Adult Oral Health Survey 2004- 2006 (Australia )
Merilyn Haines on behalf of FAN-Australia and Queenslanders For Safe Water, Air and Food Inc., Email

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