Fluoride raises its head in Rous again

By ALEX EASTON

THERE will be no fluoride in Northern Rivers drinking water unless all councils agree to its use ? if Rous Water decides it wants to use it at all.

Rous Water councillors this week heard arguments for and against the use of fluoride in drinking water as the first step in a new investigation.

Rous general manager Paul Muldoon said the 'information workshop' for Rous councillors was held in response to a request from the Australian Dental Association that it consider adding fluoride to water.

The two-hour workshop included an hour of presentations by three speakers from each side of the debate, followed by a question-and-answer session with the eight councillors.

North Coast Area Health Service oral health project man- ager John Irving led the arguments in favour of fluoridation, while Lismore resident Tora Blackman organised the arguments against.

Advocates argue that putting fluoride in drinking water radically reduces the incidence of tooth decay and helps children develop stronger teeth.

They say it is an inexpensive way to improve dental health across social and economic boundaries.

However, opponents say fluoride makes teeth and bones brittle, not strong, and is a poison capable of causing dire health problems.

They argue that adding the substance to drinking water would be a forced mass medication of the population with no control over dosage size or frequency.

Mr Muldoon said councillors would decide at Rous's March or April meeting whether they wanted to continue investigating fluoridation, stressing the matter was far from settled.

Even if councillors decided to continue looking at the issue, Rous would not contemplate adding fluoride to drinking water without agreement from all four of its constituent councils: Lismore, Ballina, By- ron and Richmond Valley.



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