Fluoridation is imminent for North Coast water
FLUORIDE will be on tap in three new North Coast council areas within the week.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant gave supply authority Rous Water permission on Monday night to switch on four new fluoridation systems covering the region.
"I'm pleased to say that last night I signed the certificate of authority for the final steps of Rous Water to commence fluoridation," she told a budget estimates hearing on Tuesday.
The Department of Health confirmed fluoride would be added to all public water supplies in the Ballina and Richmond Valley council areas, and all supplies to Lismore City Council except Nimbin.
"Lismore City Council did not pursue fluoridation of Nimbin, which is a small community with a separate water supply," a Health spokeswoman said.
"Byron Shire Council also voted against pursuing fluoridation.
"NSW Health will maintain contact with Byron Shire Council and all other non-fluoridating councils to offer support in considering fluoridation."
Shadow health minister Walt Secord pushed the government to act against protesters he said had blockaded water treatment facilities.
"What do you say to local councils that refuse to put fluoride in the water - that flout public health?" he added during the hearing.
Dr Chant said she believed local governments would eventually convert of their own accord.
"The vast majority of the local community in those areas support fluoridation, and so I'm hopeful that there can be a peaceful commencement of fluoridation in that region," she said.
Anti-fluoride campaigners planned a meeting at the South Lismore Bowls Club following the revelation on Tuesday afternoon.
Lismore Greens councillor Vanessa Ekins said she would use upcoming council meetings to push for a poll at the next local election to determine fluoridated water's level of support.
She planned to ask Rous Water to delay the switch-on until the National Health and Medical Research Council had finished a review into reducing concentration levels from 1mg/L to 0.7mg.
"America is now using the 0.7mg benchmark. There is concern even among councillors who support water fluoridation about the concentration," Cr Ekins said.
"I'm not opposed to fluoride - I use it in toothpaste.
"I'm concerned about putting fluoride in the water supply when it costs $300,000 to add the chemical and we already have 12-month waiting lists at our dentists.
"We know only 1% of the water gets used for drinking and cooking, so it is extremely inefficient.
"For me, it's all about the economics."
Cr Ekins argued water fluoridation should be scrapped and replaced by reinstatement of free dental vans that once visited regional schools.