Musing through the articles on ABC this morning, I stumbled upon Dentists concerned over Bundaberg fluoride opt-out. Apparently Queensland has been slack in drinking water fluoridation and with it finally being rolled out across the state, Bundaberg has said, “no thanks.”
One of the reasons being the cost; a whole $50 extra per year to water bills, less than a dollar a week. I wasn’t aware the people of Bundaberg were living so close to bust that a mere dollar a week couldn’t be absorbed. Of course, cost is the initial fall back reply to any change in anything, so we can safely ignore it. From there, it decends into the murky realms of the conspiracy theorist. In the article, Councillor Alan Bush is quoted as saying;
“In China … they don’t put it in their water and they export it to us to put it in our water. There is something wrong there.”
Later in the article, LNP backbencher Jason Woodforth states;
“There’s now 36 studies, many out of China, in regards to IQ lowering from fluoridation but everybody keeps discrediting them.”
So the Chinese are supplying dodgy supplies of fluoride, but at the same time quality studies that illustrate the dangers of fluoride? The former even hints at an outdated Cold War fear of the commies out to ruin the free west… Of course, the same isn’t so when their science supports a favoured position.
In recent times, Australia has around 90% in coverage of fluoridation in drinking water. That provides an excellent study cluster. Why not compare health and IQ of populations with and without fluoride in their water to analyse potential impacts. With various towns coming on board at different times, length of exposure can also be analysed. Admittedly, I’ve not looked into this, but I bet studies have been done with the biggest differences being rates of tooth rot.
More on this next week when I can properly look through the wealth of genuine science literature on the subject (I won’t go by the second hand information provided in the articles I’ve found). Further, Woodforth includes for good measure,
“Just the other day we’ve been shown to be ranked, what, 25th in the world in maths and English.”
Right, the most likely cause for our relative education rating in due to fluoride in our water supply and not under funded public education systems… We never hear of teachers on strike for wage increases or schools struggling and closing down… Oh wait.
While I was in high school, my school merged with another and even that entity is now closed after only a decade of existence. If you want quality education for all, which translates to high global ratings, it starts with properly funded public schools and not fluoride exclusion. I bulk by the fact that I’d even need to start that.
Doing a little searching for this post, I learnt that for the first decade of my life, I didn’t drink fluoride, but have for the subsequent two. Having diagnosed dyslexia has meant that I have had professional psychological testing. At that point, I had a little over a decade exposure to fluoride drinking water. I’m happy to report that my IQ survived this “communist” threat and as the signs of my dyslexia pre-date exposure to fluoride, there is no link there either.
This quick search online also lead me to the article, ‘Fluoride Dangers’ on Today Tonight by Seven Adelaide from the Alternative News Network. Here, we take the conspiracy to further depths. Presumably, Professor Mark Diesendorf from the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of New South Wales stated the following;
“Fluoridation in most water supplies involves putting in an industrial waste, the waste from the phosphate fertiliser industry into drinking water and not only does it contain fluoride but it contains traces of arsenic and heavy metals so that in itself is pretty worrying.
“Even more frightening is that the health departments are not telling the truth about it they are so committed to fluoridation that they are suppressing evidence of harm.”
Yet, the same simple search online found the SA Department of Health (DH) fact sheets on fluoride use in water. The most relevant being;
Purity of Fluoride
SA Water uses high quality hydrofluorosilicic acid purchased from a certified and accredited company to fluoridate drinking water supplies. The chemical quality is assured on delivery through the provision of a full certificate of compliance from an independent NATA-accredited laboratory.
SA Water has a long history of using this chemical to reliably add fluoride to drinking water within the range recommended in the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.
SA drinking water quality results can be downloaded from the SA Water Annual Reports webpage.
For more information about fluoridation chemicals, see the US National Science Foundation Fact Sheet on Fluoridation Chemicals (PDF 73KB).
Following the last link of the quote above, we find the following discussion regarding arsenic in the fluoridation chemicals;
The results in Table 1 indicate that the most common contaminant detected in these products is arsenic, but it is detected in only 43% of the product samples. This means that levels of arsenic in 57% of the samples were non-detectable, even though products are tested at 10 times their maximum use level. All detections were at levels below the Single Product Allowable Concentration, if the product is added to drinking water at (or below) its maximum use level.
The SPAC, as defined in NSF/ANSI Standard 60, is one tenth of the US EPA’s MCL. The current MCL for arsenic is 10 ppb, the highest detection of arsenic from a fluoridation chemical was 0.6 ppb (shown on Table 1), and the average concentration was 0.12 ppb. Even the highest concentration of 0.6 ppb was only detected because the standard requires testing the chemical at 10 times its maximum use level to detect these trace levels of contaminants. Had the dose of fluoridation additives been tested in water at the maximum use level, instead of at 10 times their maximum use levels, the arsenic concentration measured would have been below the 1 ppb reporting limit for arsenic for 100 percent of the samples measured.
So no, the DH are not suppressing anything. They are open and honest with anyone willing to spend ten minutes on Google and as much time again reading their reports.
Further, I’ve worked in NATA accredited laboratories. The hoops one needs to jump through and the relentless book-keeping ensures quality of data and meta-data control and repeatability, in other words, confidence. In chemical labs, as mine was, samples often need to be kept so that they can be retested down the line for further checking if needed.
All of which makes me wonder if the quote is indeed from Mark Diesendorf and, if so, what kind of scientist is he if such basic online research is beyond him?
It is exceedingly unlikely that water fluoridation will ever prove to be of concern to human health or in irrigation in the levels it is used. Even if a minor point is ever found, the anti-fluoride should avoid the “I told you so!” parade, for the best they bring to the table is poorly researched assumptions and half-baked conspiracies that stink of the outdated Cold-War phobias.
They never brought to the table a hypothesis that withstood much critical thought. In fact, a couple minutes on Google was all that I actually needed. As with those that reject science behind vaccination, evolution and anthropogenic climate change, they insist that “the jury is out” until, in some vain hope, the evidence might one day swing in their favour. That isn’t a strong position and certainly not worth all the noise they waste insisting they must be right.