Council Shows Some Teeth

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1 COVER STORY Flouride Finishes Council Shows Some Teeth - 40 years of Fluoridation Finishes Before this month is over, New Plymouth residents will be drinking non-fluoridated water for the first time in over forty years. Words Irena Brooks Photo Rob Tucker On October 13 th, the New Plymouth District Council decided to stop fluoridating the water supply for the New Plymouth area. The decision has caused a national furore and claims from members of the public that the NPDC has acted irresponsibly. The chief dental officer for the Ministry of Health, Dr Robyn Haisman-Welsh described it as deeply disappointing while Taranaki DHB dental clinician leader, David Antunovic stated in The Daily News that I think that sometimes democracy is acknowledged stupidity. Meanwhile, the Fluoride Action Network of New Zealand congratulated the New Plymouth District Council for its scientifically and ethically sound decision to end fluoridation, and deploy the savings to actually help those with poor dental health. Since it is now accepted that the primary benefit (of fluoride) is topical it does not make sense to continue fluoridation, says Ms Byrne, spokesperson for FANNZ. New Plymouth councillors cannot be sidelined as the looney fringe or be accused of not being informed. They are most probably the most informed council in the country. The historic decision came after a two-day tribunal style hearing at the end of September, when councillors considered 437 written submissions and heard from 45 submitters. Nearly 90% of submissions (386) called for council to cease water fluoridation, and came from dentists, doctors, a lawyer, Ruapehu District Councillor Jeni Kydd, and Colleen Tuuta from the Taranaki District Health Board, while 46 submissions were for fluoridation. The water supply services communities from Omata in the west to Urenui in the east, and includes New Plymouth, Bell Block, Waitara, Motunui and parts of Tikorangi. The Inglewood, Oakura and Okato water supplies are already non-fluoridated. No new hydro-fluorosilicic acid stock will be added to the New Plymouth water supply from the day of the decision 13 th October. The existing supply will be depleted through the reticulation, and is expected to run out by the end of November (depending on water demand). The budget that is put aside for buying hydrofluorosilicic acid (HFA) will instead go towards an education campaign on dental hygiene, to be delivered in cooperation with relevant community agencies, says Mayor Harry Duynhoven. Council staff will investigate what form that education campaign will take and report on it to the Council for consideration. THE DEBATE Anyone observing the two day tribunal on fluoridation on 29 and 30 September would probably not have been able to pick an outcome. Two weeks later, the debate began with three recommendations in front of councillors: 1) to maintain the status quo; 2) to remove fluoride from all the district s water and 3) to fluoridate all the district s water. Cr Pauline Lockett did not take part due to her role on the Taranaki District Health Board (which voted for water fluoridation) and Cr MacFarlane was overseas, so a total of 12 councillors and the mayor took part. Councillor Bublitz moved Recommendation 1 - that the staus quo be maintained, with New Plymouth and Waitara water continuing to be fluoridated, while Oakura and Inglewood were not. But ninety minutes later, it was unanimously agreed that fluoridation of all New Plymouth district water be ceased immediately. These hearings have been some of the most intense hearings of my 27 years on council, Cr Bublitz began. But science will never give a definite answer that is the nature of science, he pointed out. We already put an enormous amount of chemicals in our water to make it healthy. Our ethical role is to ensure the best health for the most people of this community. I cannot be part of a decision that goes the reverse. The critical point of all this is that it (fluoride) has been in the water for 40 years and there haven t been any problems.

2 Exclusive to home the NEW Impressa Z7 from Jura Experience the latest in Swiss Coffee technology right here in New Plymouth FREE GIFT! Receive a 12 piece set of Jura cappuccino cups and saucers when you purchase the new Impressa Z7 GADGET7202 open 7 days 310 Devon Street East ph Cr Maurice Betts was next to speak, supporting the motion to maintain the status quo. I can find no compelling evidence that it does harm. Then Shaun Biesiek rose to speak, puzzled as to why, if the previous two speakers were in favour of fluoridation, they would vote to maintain the status quo. I would have thought we would have gone for 2 (Recommendation B2 cease fluoridation) or 3 (Recommendation B3 fluoridate all NP district communities). Most awarded boat in New Zealand for last 4 years He also questioned Cr Bublitz s assertion that if science wasn t a definite, then why were we continuing to put a substance into our water that we don t know if it works or not? Yes we do put chemicals in our water to make it healthy except one. The one we re debating. Fluoride is a topical application both sides agree to that. No-one from the Health Board 100% - or even 90% - convinced me. So therefore there s doubt. As soon as there s doubt, in my mind, of putting a substance in, I would not want to sit down with my grandchildren and say sorry, I made the wrong decision because I wasn t convinced either way. 650 GAME KING Extremely Stable and Safe I d like to foreshadow a move to Recommendation 2 to cease fluoride. Deputy Mayor, Alex Matheson, who seconded Cr Bublitz s motion, was the next to speak.

3 We are damned if we do, and boy oh boy, we are damned if we don t. I m living proof of the evidence that no fluoridation, I guess, is the effects of bad teeth. My children, have been subjected to fluoridated water and the caries in their teeth are minimal. Councillor Sherrill George started her speech with a thank you. I won t be supporting the motion and I want to thank Cr Biesiek for acknowledging that the Ministry of Health plays a big part in this, because I remember the days when the MOH decided that treating brain disorders with electric shock therapy was the only way to go, when spraying things with 245T was the safe and effective way of looking after our planet, and we see the results of that now. What swayed it for me was the whole thing comes down to education. You show me a kid who runs around with a Pump bottle, in Waitara, as opposed to a Coke bottle. Treat the source. Not by forcing the rest of the community to a drug we know is not good for our bodies. Cr Judd didn t agree with the motion either. I m confused at my colleagues who have spoken for it, in moving (Recommendation) one that s partial fluoridation. We ve sat here and listened to why fluoridation should stay. Surely the discussion really is, ceasing, or doing the whole district? Partial fluoridation just doesn t make sense to me, so from that point on, any argument from them, I can t take seriously. I consider myself a conservative person I ve always had that sense that the powers-that-be are right. It was ingrained. Doctor knows best. I came into this debate thinking the same thing, but left with doubt. One of the first things I did when I got home, because we have young children, was to check the toothpaste - make sure they re not swallowing it because doubt was planted in my mind, as to whether what was being done was actually completely safe. Maree Pearce agreed with fluoridation, but couldn t support the motion, as she wanted to see everybody in the district receiving fluoride. When Cr Girling- Butcher took the floor, he described the turmoil he endured as he weighed the evidence from both sides. I have lain awake at nights chasing this thing round in my brain and trying to distil it down to it s very essence. The best way to apply fluoride to teeth is through fluoridated toothpaste, which requires the intervention of parents. Unfortunately, there s a section of the population who don t even feed their kids very well, let alone teach them to clean their teeth. And even if they did, it probably wouldn t do much because their diets are so chaotic they re going to develop tooth decay anyway. Transposed against that, we have a society that is much more cautious and careful about what it consumes. I know a lot (of people) who will carefully read the labels on the packages and bottles they buy, to find out whether it has certain substances that they want to avoid. I think fluoride enters that category. We, as a local authority, are asking some people and I suspect it s quite a large number of people to take a substance they would normally avoid as much as they can. And I wonder if we re the right body to even be making that decision. It surely should be a central government policy that decides whether the country s water supplies will be fluoridated or not. One of the things I felt was lacking was any comprehensive survey that proved categorically that two identical communities, one fluoridated and one not the benefits of fluoridation as against the other. We actually heard from both sides that modern diet take a scenic drive to the new Founders Cafe at Pukeiti. Garden entry is free. Take the time to experience the rhododendron collection. Enjoy lunch and refreshments. Gardens open every day 9 a.m to 5 p.m - Cafe open Oct 1 to Jan 31st 10 a.m to 4 p.m CAFE AVAILABLE FOR FUNCTIONS Phone: Custom Team and Corporate Cycle Clothing Corporate Clothing Sports Clubs and Teams Schools 456b Devon Street East, Strandon NP. Ph/Fax

4 with the advent of coke and soft drinks and sports drinks, is causing a resurgence in dental problems fluoridated or not. So, In my troubled state I reached the conclusion it was wrong to self-medicate our community, that it is an ethical consideration, that there has not really been enough evidence produced for or against the harm that might be caused by this, but it s something that people should be able to make an individual decision about. the Murder House. I remember a dentist saying to me when I was a teenager that I had some of the worst teeth that he d seen. One visit I was given 14 fillings. So I ve grown up in that background and I ve come into this tribunal hearing I guess with that memory and I believe that fluoride certainly has made a difference at that time in the 60s, 70s and 80s. I don t know whether it s the case now though. wouldn t believe. There s no evidence to say that the people living in non-fluoridated areas of our district have appalling teeth compared to those living in a fluoridated area. It wasn t compelling enough for me from the pro-fluoride side. In my professional career as an MC and a speaker and a joke-teller, I ve lived by the mantra if in doubt, leave it out. I live by that because at times I haven t always followed that through I ve been in doubt and said the odd thing that perhaps I shouldn t have. On all of those occasions it s come back to bite me somewhere fluoride wouldn t normally be applied. I went home and looked at my three children s teeth well two children s teeth, and I ve just been to Probably, the most effective thing we can do, is Australia to check on my third child s teeth. They re wage an education campaign, that highlights these facts to the community, that sugar is the curse when all born and raised in New Plymouth. it comes to dental care, encourage people to use a They have quite clear fluorosis on their teeth. They fluoridated toothpaste and cease to fluoridate our I am in doubt, I m not sure that fluoride in our water have good teeth but they have very clear water supply. supply is the way to go. fluorosis. So that concerned me. And it concerned me that if that appears on your teeth, are we sure He then indicated he couldn t support the motion, Cr Dodunski then spoke, there is not damage being done elsewhere? and added he would like to add a clause to saying she was one of the Cr Biesiek s foreshadowed motion, to utilise the councillors who voted at the A lot of the evidence that was presented I was quite money currently spent on water fluoridation, to last fluoridation tribunal in sceptical about. I went back last night and watched educate those most at risk of poor dental health 2000, when the council that video of Dr Paul Connett, and it was compelling. in our society. almost unanimously agreed The evidence that he brought out, particularly with to maintain the status quo. the change of mind of people like Dr John Cr Quinney also offered Colquhoun (see side-bar) really struck home to me. an insight into a councillor s I m not prepared to support That here we have medical professionals, dental lot by revealing the the motion that s before us, because this is what professionals, that admitted maybe they d got it trepidation he felt coming we did last time and I m not prepared to do this wrong, that they had concern. I think a lot has into the debate. half-and-half - I really think it s time for a decision. changed in the last 40 years. I grew up in non-fluoridated What has influenced me, as I ve looked and listened Christchurch and have the If there was an issue with fluoridation and it s and read and watched is the thing that Cr Quinney benefit, as opposed to non-fluoridation, we d have teeth to prove it. I lived in has raised. The fact that there were opportunities the dental industry setting up in Inglewood like you dread of being called up to raised over the last few years, in this very district, to GOURMET BUTCHER RICHMOND CENTRE, EGMONT ST, NP PH (06)

5 have the proof that would have swayed this council. We had the situation where Waitara was unfluoridated, and then became fluoridated, and yet we had no studies, no real proof from anybody so for me that was a golden opportunity wasted. We heard a lot about the weight of evidence. But some of the points that were important to me that perhaps I hadn t considered, at the last sitting, I was taken by the young mums, with their young babies, through no fault of their own, were on bottle feeding. How do you adjust and take care of the amount of water that goes in, how can you afford to go somewhere and get water that hasn t got fluoride in, to take the safety of those young babies into consideration? For me it was about the young children and after all the reading, all the studying, I didn t have the same confidence I had before, that we were actually correct in what we were doing. So for me, this time around, I have changed my opinion, I support the foreshadowed motion by Cr Biesiek, I would like to see the fluoridation taken out of the water supply, and I do that because I think it then allows us all to have freedom of choice. Cr John McLeod added some other viewpoints. In my travels throughout the world, I ve been in contact with many native peoples, who don t have a local dairy down the road, and their teeth are lovely. The evidence is not 100% conclusive in my view. There is doubt. If in doubt, err to the side of safety - always and you ll get through. I ve lived by that golden rule and I guess those of you that do know me a bit and know my background, I m still here today, because of that golden rule. I ll be supporting Cr Biesiek s motion. Cr Tamati began his speech by saying how much he didn t like people chanting and waving placards when he arrived at the council chambers. You tend to get a little bit defensive. When I get into situations like that, I get a bit anti I close off. I had to be a bit careful to come into the room with an open mind. I was part of the last debate that we had. What was interesting for me was the amount of people that did come from out of town. I guess I m quite a simple person in a lot of ways, and I listen to people who have been working in the field for a long, long time, and I probably take more particular notice of those sort of people. I felt the process we went through was stage-managed to a large degree and I also had some issues with some submitters ambushing others, jumping in and at the end of the day when a high profile person (Allison Roe) was invited, or invited herself to come in and sum up all those things caused me to have a lot of angst and I felt that we were sort of being manipulated. So there s a whole lot of feeling outside the actual issue I still believe that the decision that we made last time, was the right decision, I support Cr Bublitz and the motion that he s proposed. I believe it s the right thing to do. I m prepared to go with something we ve been supporting for forty years. Last to speak was Mayor Harry Duynhoven. I m going to speak on this, even though I don t need to, simply because I think people will want to know what my views are. I ve listened with a great deal of interest right through, I ve read an enormous amount of paper on this issue, including from people who came and spoke to us for ten minutes and gave us fifty pages of closely typed stuff from the internet, purporting to be science. There are all sorts of variables and issues that make it difficult to get a comparison between say fluoridated Waitara and non-fluoridated Oakura. The issue then is, does fluoride do harm, because clearly it has had a positive effect on teeth over that Halamoana 2010 award winning outstanding wine list Architect institutes 2010 interior award Your Lounge in Town Wine Bar 49 Liardet Street New Plymouth

6 time. And that s what has been brought to us in spades by those opposing fluoride out of the 417 submissions, how many were genuinely from people in New Plymouth district? The vast majority were generated from outside and well-meaning people here grabbed big chunks of them and put them in as their submission. Examples of Fluorosis MILD very mild moderate severe severe mild And where s the evidence of actual harm? Yes, fluorosis on the teeth, yes, it s slightly disfiguring, but is it actually harmful? Does it show, as is claimed, vast build-ups of cancers and bone disease arthritis and so on? It may do. But where is the evidence locally that shows over the last forty years, that fluoride has been responsible for that in the people of New Plymouth? I believe that the status quo has responded to the wishes of the people of Oakura, Okato and Inglewood, who in polling have said, no, they don t want fluoride. I am in favour of Cr Bublitz s resolution. The recommendation to maintain the staus quo was then put to the vote, with Crs Betts, Bublitz, Matheson and Tamati in favour, along with Mayor Harry. The other eight councillors were against, so the motion was lost and Cr Biesiek put forward his motion that Recommnedation B2 be adopted, along with the clause about using the current funding for fluoridation to be put towards an education programme. The council voted unanimously for Rec B2. The full debate can be viewed on: newplymouth.com Who Was John Colquhoun? In the 1960s and 70s, John Colquhoun was the principal dental officer for Auckland. Both as a dental officer and a city councillor, he enthusiastically and successfully promoted fluoridation throughout New Zealand. In 1980, he was sent on a four-month world tour to investigate tooth decay on several continents. He expected to bring back evidence, once and for all, that fluoridation worked. Instead, dental researchers told Colquhoun in private that they were not finding the difference in tooth decay between fluoridated and nonfluoridated communities that they had expected; in fact they were finding very little difference at all. When Colquhoun returned to New Zealand, he looked at the complete record of tooth decay in the country. He found no difference in tooth decay between the fluoridated and non-fluoridated cities. If anything, the teeth were slightly better in the non-fluoridated communities. He then reversed his position and opposed the practice in any scientific way he could. Colquhoun wrote up his findings in several published papers, obtained a PhD and argued that New Zealand s dental education programme was superior to water fluoridation to reduce tooth decay. TOP SHOP BEST 2008 HALAMOANA BEST ETHNIC 2009 AT THE VALLEY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED BEST 2009 TOP SHOP TOP SHOP COMMENDED 2010 HALAMOANA BEST ETHNIC 2010

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