The North West Star gives us an example of poor reporting, although this isn’t their shame alone; looking at the reporting on serious science-policy topics over the past four years, I’ve seen it in most media time and time again.
But while Mt Isa discusses whether or not to fluoridate their water supply, it is interesting to note that Jasmine Barber twice mentions fluoridation as “medication of the city’s water supply” in her article – once on her own and the other as a quote from the infamous Merilyn Haines. It simply doesn’t stand up to a thorough investigation.
For instance, we have many natural sources of fluoride exposure and it is also common in some foods and especially tea. Would Merilyn or Jasmine attempt to say that the Earth itself or tea manufactures are “medicating” us? Why is it different when added to our drinking water when no-one calls it “medication” to add chloride to render drinking water safe?
The term “medication” used by the anti-fluoridation movement is too slippery, requiring many if’s and but’s, for any dictionary definition.
More importantly, fluoridation has long been proven safe and effective.
Looking at an Aussie example, the NSW Child Dental Health Survey, 2007, found that 13% more children were completely free from dental caries in fluoridated areas than in non-fluoridated areas (page 27), where there was only an additional 3% increase of discernible signs of fluorosis (page 39). Fluorosis is of cosmetic concern only, where poor dental health is not only cosmetic, but also can lead to serious health issues.
I hope when Mt Isa votes, the local community look beyond the unreasonable fear and doubt mongering of Ms Haines and QAWF and to the capital cities of the other states – all with several decades of water fluoridation. In these cities, the population isn’t riddled with bladder/lung or bone cancers or stupidity/lower IQ or a waste land devoid of hydrangeas. These cities are doing well and the children have an additional measure of dental health protection that is proven to be effective and costs the communities next to nothing. These cities enjoy what is considered one of the top ten public health achievements of the twentieth century.
In short, this is what the vote is for in Mt Isa; No = standing up for debunked alarmist anti-fluoridation propaganda. Yes = enjoying the benefits of public health improvements with a wealth of scientific evidence to back it up. No = high dental health expense and eroded smiles. Yes = helping to protect the teeth of Mt Isa’s children.