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Fluoride should be added to all council-run drinking water supplies in Central Otago for the good health of residents, district councillors were told this week.
Emeritus Prof Peter Herbison, who worked in the University of Otago Health Science Division before retiring to Bannockburn, urged the Central Otago District Council to add fluoride.
Prof Herbison spoke at a hearing of submissions to the council's 10-year-plan on Wednesday.
In the plan, the council said improving water treatment to meet the New Zealand Drinking Water Standards, to deliver safe and wholesome water supplies, was a key issue. It had nine drinking water schemes and all were chlorinated to mitigate the risk of bacterial contamination.
"The water you propose to deliver to homes in the regions will still be making people ill," Prof Herbison said.
There was new evidence fluoride was especially good for the health of children and the elderly, he said.
Cr Martin McPherson said the addition of fluoride was a health issue and the district health board should make the decision rather than leaving it to local authorities.
Prof Herbison said there was no evidence fluoride posed a health risk, and no good reasons not to add it to water supplies.
Cr Victoria Bonham said individuals could make the decision about fluoride themselves and take fluoride tablets if they wanted to.
Prof Herbison said to avoid the problems experienced when the Havelock North drinking water supply was contaminated, it was better to add fluoride to drinking water and people could then use filters to remove it if they wanted.
"Otherwise what happened in Havelock North could happen in lots of places. If you don't have enough fluoridation, the water will still make people ill."
Cr Neil Gillespie thought most people received enough fluoride from toothpaste, but Prof Herbison said the recommended daily intake for good health was double that ingested through toothpaste.
The council also received a written submission from Jean Anderson, who referred to a letter by a group called Physicians and Scientists for Global Responsibility New Zealand.
The group asked councils throughout the country to keep drinking water free of fluoride.
It said the risks of fluoride had been exaggerated, but so had the benefits.