At its next meeting — Wednesday, February 23rd, 2pm — the DHB will take up the issue of fluoride in public drinking water.

David Marshall, Principal Dental Officer, will make a presentation to the Board, which will then — in public session — consider its stance on the matter. Presumably, Dr Marshall will report on the current best evidence on the efficacy, as well as any adverse consequences, of adding fluoride to public drinking water.

Readers might recall that a few years back, Dr Marshall, a long-time Napier dentist (where there is no fluoride in the drinking water) successfully initiated a ban on soft drinks in the region’s health facilities. That suggests he’s rather keen on the healthiness of what we drink.

The DHB review is triggered by the Hastings Council’s apparent readiness to review once again its policy of adding fluoride to Hastings water. One option likely to be tabled is the prospect of a referendum on the issue later this year.

If the Health Board — as the region’s elected, designated health decision-maker — reaffirms that fluoride is a safe and effective additive, one might question on what expertise (or authoritativeness) the Hastings Council might decide otherwise. Which group of elected officials should be the voice of authority here?

Local opponents of fluoride have targeted the Hastings Council, since it actually controls the water supply and adds the stuff. But for its part, the Council (or I should say, most of the previous Councillors) has — so far — deferred to the expertise of the DHB.

DHB Chair Kevin Atkinson is opposed personally to a referendum. He believes this is a matter to be decided on the scientific/medical merits as best evaluated by those elected to make such judgments. In his view, a referendum would require the DHB to commit substantial resources, better used on other public health priorities, to educate the public in a debate that would be driven more by emotion than facts. However, he acknowledges that as his personal view … hence the upcoming Board discussion.

Whatever the DHB outcome, meethinks that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

If the DHB is absolutely convinced that the dental health benefits of fluoride in the drinking water both exist and outweigh any adverse effects, then arguably its policy on the matter should apply to all local jurisdictions in the region, including, say, Napier.

Can’t wait to hear DHB Board member Barbara Arnott (and spouse of dentist Dr David Arnott) debate this one.

But perhaps ‘debate’ isn’t the right term in this case. Because DHB members will only hear from Dr Marshall, who can be expected to marshal the best case advanced by the prevailing health establishment. Opponents of fluoride will observe from the bleacher seats on this day, although they can use existing ‘deputation’ rules to secure presentation time before a later DHB meeting.

At any rate, it’s good to see the issue ventilated in public amongst the DHB board members. That much is a credit to the transparent operating style of Chairman Atkinson. Perhaps interested Hastings and Napier Councillors should attend!

After next Wednesday, I’m not sure how many of his Board colleagues will be thanking Chairman Atkinson for this ‘opportunity’ to make an important public decision in public! But the rest of us should.

Tom Belford

P.S. If you want some information to weigh against the official ‘party line’, try this summary, selected in part because it includes this item about NZ research:

“A larger study has been conducted in New Zealand. There, the New Zealand National Health Service plan examines the teeth of every child in key age groups, and have found that the teeth of children in non-fluoridated cities were slightly better than those in the fluoridated cities. (Colquhoun, J. “Child Dental Health Differences in New Zealand”, Community Healthy Services, XI 85-90, 1987).”

Join the Conversation


  1. Tom, once again in the absence of true information you just make things up. What on earth makes you think Hastings is reconsidering its position. Lawrence Yule recently said that the people of Hastings deserve to have their say on the issue. But let’s be sensible, a standalone referendum isn’t goin to cut it from a cost perspective. If it happens at all it would be at the next three yearly election.

    It never ceases to amaze me the liberties you take with facts.

  2. Gee, Mike Williams … or whoever you are. You’ve finally, after four years of my writing this blog, exposed me as a fraud … making it all up. Whatever will I do now that my credibility is shot?!

    On fluoride, Mike, just watch what happens over the next month or so.

  3. Forgetting Mike Williams and fluoride for a moment, we appreciate our thanks to Tom Belford, for the latest Bay Buzz, and to its editorial team. The latest Bay Buzz as a most stimulating read.

  4. And before ‘shooting from the lip’ the experts would do well to read Christopher Bryson’s The Fluoride Deception;

    Of course we should use the prior comparisons of 50 years ago where Hastings was Fluoridated and Napier was not and the resultant increase in dental carries in 5 year olds in Hastings that did not happen in Napier. But no, if it comes to a bad result with commercial interests pushing their hazardous waste, then we are pushed into yet another pointless wasteful experiment to medicate everyone.

    The experiment that started 50 odd years ago in Newburg and Kingston in New York state, which the dental association was in on, when they got the negative result from fluoride – it was simply ignored and Fluoride has been pushed by the dental association ever since. All based on flawed science.

    Mike Williams – go and read the book above.

  5. Hi Tom, I’m a wee bit puzzled by your statement about whoever I am. I post my full name, which is more than many others do. Just because I disagree with some things you say, doesn’t mean it’s a conspiracy. I call it how I see it and I stand by my contention that at times you take considerable creative liberties with the “facts”.

    Apparently paranoia abounds. Collin, try actually reading my post. At which point did I say I was in favour of fluoridation. I actually took no position on it, all I said was Tom was dreaming if he thought it would go to a referendum in the next year.

  6. DHB have a duty of care to the residents of Hastings to demonstrate that fluoride is safe for all residents to drink given the vast body of information that shows it suppresses enzymes, hardens the pineal gland, causes dysfunction of the thyroid gland and a range of other conditions. They cannot prove safety because they do not monitor fluoride in blood, urine, nails or bone. They do not monitor thyroid rates between fluroidated or unfluoridated areas. They do not monitor fluorosis rates in HB. It is completely irresponsible for our health board to be recommending a mass medication of a drug without proper monitoring or individualisation of the dose. People who want to stop fluoridation in Hastings can email Councillors through our website
    Register your name on the website to get our latest emails.

  7. I think considering adding fluoride to the water should be tested further to rule out the negative effects of fluoride to our body.

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