Fluoride to be removed from Waipukurau water

By Morgan Tait, Lawrence Gullery

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Fluoride will no longer be added to the water supply at Waipukurau - against district health board recommendations.

A Central Hawke's Bay District Council special meeting has voted six to two in favour of ending fluoridation of the town's water after considering 149 public submissions. Only 14 asked to keep the chemical in the water supply.

CHB Mayor Peter Butler said the council decided it would let the fluoride "run through the system" for another month instead of paying for it to be removed.

The council ran a survey and asked for public submissions on whether people wanted to keep fluoride in Waipukurau water.

Mr Butler said he was pleased so many took the time to write in and their submissions were heard by the council last week, giving councillors another week to consider public opinion.

"We called for public feedback on this four or five years ago and most people were against it, but the Hawke's Bay District Health Board presented to the council and managed to change the council's decision in favour of keeping fluoride," Mr Butler said.

"It's always been a bit of a contentious issue and there was a lot of animosity about that decision which is why we've revisited it again."

Mr Butler said the issue was raised by the community, not initiated by councillors. "We've got two dentists in town and one is against it and one is for it. We had asked for all of the dentists in Hawke's Bay to make submissions to gauge their opinions, but only about eight did so."

Hastings Fluoride Action Group spokeswoman Angela Hair, one of the submitters asking for the chemical to be removed, said the council's decision would aid the group's campaign next year when Hastings people vote in a referendum on whether they want to keep fluoride in that town's water.

"We are gearing up for the referendum, which can be difficult because it means people will have to be educated so they can vote on what is a complicated matter.

"We are going to hold some public meetings and the [Hastings district] council has agreed to help us supply information but really this should be the responsibility of the DHB to look at research and the impacts of fluoride." She said research showed the best way to administer fluoride was via toothpaste and brushing teeth, or when it was applied by a dentist.

Fluoride Action Network New Zealand co-ordinator Mary Byrne said councils around the country were finding the touted benefit of reduced dental decay was not what it was thought to be. "There are now only 23 councils out of a total of 69 that continue fluoridation in New Zealand."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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