New Zealand orders fluoridation of water supplies while many developed nations, including Israel, Finland, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, and Sweden have abandoned or banned water fluoridation, writes Keri Molloy in this guest post.
Under the principle of informed consent, anyone can refuse treatment with a drug or other health intervention.
New Zealand is swimming against the stream.
A law was passed in 2015, ruling that fluoride compounds are medicines when given to you in a pill but not when put in your water supply.
And then the Health (Fluoridation of Drinking Water) Amendment Act 2021 shifted the decision-making authority on community water fluoridation from local authorities to the Director-General of Health on the basis that it is a health-based decision.
So, free rein was given to former Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield, taking away individual choice.
As he wandered off into the sunset last year, Dr Bloomfield directed 14 local authorities to add fluoride to their water supplies – as if this was his parting gift.
Dr Bloomfield said the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor recently looked at new information about water fluoridation and found ‘no evidence’ that it causes any significant health issues at the levels used in New Zealand.
This judgement ignores the principle that ‘the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence’.
Dr Bloomfield’s decree came after several communities, including Northland where I live, made it clear they do not want their water supplies laced with fluoride.
Now it is upon us.
Health authorities will now push fluoride on all age groups, from babies up – while, ironically, they want to protect us from the hazards of natural health products such as traditional herbal medicines, vitamins and mineral supplements.
In other words, the government is determined to clamp down on natural health products through its Therapeutic Products Bill, while they have ordered ingestion of a chemical that has been linked to developmental neurotoxicity, lowered IQ, hypothyroidism and dental fluorosis.
Fluoride accumulates in bone throughout life and no study has yet determined the lifelong effect of that accumulation.
It will cost about $5 million to fluoridate Northland’s water supplies, alone, plus about $142,000 in ongoing annual costs.
Yes, I’m angry.
Fluoridation of water and its ethics have been controversial for many years. Experts wade in on both sides.
Today, most developed nations do not fluoridate their water.
New Zealand (that happens to be a volcanic region and thus has high fluoride anyway) is listed as one of only 10 countries in the world that have more than 50 percent of their population drinking fluoridated water.
Water fluoridation is the process of adjusting the natural level of fluoride in drinking water supply to between 0.7 ppm (parts-per-million) and 1.0 ppm.
The government’s message is that fluoridated water is safe for everyone to drink – including babies and the elderly. They quote papers done in 2014 and 2015.
But it’s disingenuous to claim that fluoridation is safe when its safety in the elderly exposed for an entire lifetime has never been tested, according to Dr Hardy Limeback, former head of Preventive Dentistry at the University of Toronto.
Dr Limeback has spent decades studying the effects of fluoride on teeth and bones: “It became clear to me that even at low chronic daily intakes of fluoride, such as those provided by fluoridation, susceptible and vulnerable groups of the population can experience ill health effects.
“It is often claimed that fluoridation results in very low exposure to humans at levels much lower than the studies that show harm. However, fluoridation at 0.7 ppm or 1 ppm is a concentration, not a dose. Drinking 1 L of fluoridated drinking water per day results in a daily dose of 0.7 to 1.0 mg/day. The weight of the subject is crucial. Thus, newborns weighing 5 kg that drink formula made with fluoridated water are exposed to a daily dose of 0.14 to 0.20 mg/km.”
Fluoridation of water supplies is coercive and a breach of human rights. Families will be unable to opt out of the government’s scheme and even if they set up a rainwater tank for their own use – they will get their dose of fluoride when buying a drink or eating out.
Fluoride is naturally present in many foods.
A more popular, cost effective and sensible measure would be for the government to take its foot off the pedal in regulating natural health products and spend more on promoting beneficial ingestion of fluoride through healthy diet.
Northlander Ross Forbes has long been involved in fluoridation research. In a 2021 letter to former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, he wrote:
“The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has acknowledged that the mechanism of fluoride’s benefits are mainly topical, not systemic. There is no need, therefore, to swallow fluoride to protect teeth.
“Since the purported benefit of fluoride is topical and the risks are systemic it makes more sense to deliver the fluoride directly to the tooth in the form of toothpaste. Since swallowing fluoride is unnecessary, and potentially dangerous, there is no justification for forcing people (hundreds of thousands supposedly against their will) to ingest fluoride through their water supply.”
According to a PubMed Central paper, published in 2021, the issue of whether fluoride is safe depends on the sensitivity of the organism, the concentration of fluoride, and the conditions by which fluoride is administered: “Fluoride has both positive and negative effects. Low fluoride levels decrease cavities and partially restore the minerals in teeth. High levels of fluoride lead to protein inhibition, a release of free radicals, disruption of metal homeostasis, and tissue damage. The question then becomes how much fluoride an organism will encounter during their lifetime.
“Most vertebrates are exposed to fluoride through their diet. Fluoride is present in food and water, where after ingestion fluoride passes along the gastrointestinal tract and into the plasma. Over time, fluoride accumulates in soft tissue such as the spleen, kidney, and especially the bone, leading to potential chronic toxicity.”
“When you have a public health intervention that’s applied to everybody, the burden of evidence to know that people are likely to benefit and not to be harmed is much higher, since people can’t choose,” – British academic Trevor Sheldon.
This article was first published at Keri Molloy’s Substack and is republished here with her permission. Keri is an artist and concerned citizen of New Zealand with 40 years experience as a journalist.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent or reflect those of The Looking Glass.