A pro-fluoride policy of the Waikato District Health Board will remain, despite opposition from a board member who voted against it.
Arguments from Andrew Buckley about the side-effects of fluoridating Hamilton's water were dismissed by the community and public health advisory committee chairwoman Sally Christie, who said the committee's role was only to endorse the policy, not debate it.
Mr Buckley called for a report into the policy in September, and yesterday said he was concerned that a presentation to the committee on water fluoridation did not present both sides of the argument.
"We're reviewing half the science," Mr Buckley said.
He said fluoride had been linked to bone cancer and premature births, but when he tried to question Waikato DHB medical officer of health Felicity Dumble, Mrs Christie said the discussion was not a "cross-examination" of Dr Dumble.
Mr Buckley gave up when he discovered the health board was legally required to support water fluoridation.
The Public Health and Disability Act 2000 requires the direction of district health boards to be consistent with the New Zealand Health Strategy.
This specifies that oral health initiatives include support for fluoridation of reticulated water supplies.
"So maybe we shouldn't be having this debate because if we opposed it it would be illegal," Mr Buckley said.
The Hamilton City Council has fluoridated its water supply since 1966 to prevent and reduce tooth decay.
In the presentation, the DHB's principal dental officer, Dr Rob Aitken, and Dr Dumble said it cost the council $40,000 a year to fluoridate water supplies but it had saved more than $1 million in dental care costs.
Dr Dumble said there was no risk of fluorosis discoloured teeth through under-developed enamel osteosarcoma (bone cancer), brittle bones or lower IQs in children if fluoride was used at recommended levels, which in New Zealand was between 0.7 and 1 milligram per litre of water.
In Hamilton it was concentrated at 0.7 parts per million, a "top-up" to the naturally occurring fluoride already in the water.
But in a paper given to the committee after the discussion, Barry Cope of Hamilton GreyPower said studies in China and India where the water had higher concentrations than 1 milligram showed children with lower-than-normal IQs.
Though 300 million people in 39 countries, including Australia, Canada, Ireland, Israel, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States, have access to fluoridated drinking water, Mr Cope said Spain was the only country in Europe where fluoride had not been outlawed.
He said fluoride affected the absorption of folic acid, caused anaemia in pregnancy and led to more pre-term deliveries, at 34 weeks. It also interfered with the thyroid and affected fertility, he said.
The Hamilton City Council was to publicly consult on the issue early next year following 120 submissions to its annual plan on the controversial topic.
The submissions followed a presentation to the council in April by US professor Paul Connett who likened fluoride to an industrial grade waste product.