Australia's peak health body, the National Health and Medical Research Council, has found that adding fluoride to public drinking water is a safe and effective measure for preventing tooth decay and does not contribute to diseases including cancer or cause a lower IQ or cognitive function.
But the NHMRC's draft information paper - which was released last week and is now open to a month-long public consultation - has failed the stem the debate raging in the Bega Valley where Bega Valley Shire Council is considering whether fluoride should be added to the Tantawanglo-Kiah, Brogo-Bermagui and Bemboka water supplies.
Fluoride has been added to the Bega, Kalaru and Tathra water supplies since 1963.
Release of the NHMRC paper comes as Dr Maria Claudianos, from the Beach Street Dental Centre in Merimbula, confirmed that a complaint from a Bega Valley resident against her anti-fluoride campaign had been lodged with the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission.
"Government bodies cannot admit that there is the possibility of harm stemming from policies that have been in place for more than 60 years," she said.
Dr Geoff Pain – who Dr Claudianos flew from Melbourne to speak at a number of anti-fluoride seminars in Bega, Merimbula and Eden in June – claimed the NHMRC had "completely ignored" relevant studies including ones which had linked fluoride to chronic kidney disease.
The NHMRC report - which was based on an analysis of 3000 studies - found that the level at which water supplies were fluoridated in Australia were safe.
NHMRC Professor Clive Wright said reports about water fluoridation affecting children's IQ were based on old studies undertaken in China that used poor methodology and areas with up to five times as much fluoride in the water compared to Australia.
BVSC general manager Leanne Barnes said the decision on whether fluoride would be added to the shire’s other three water supplies would be made by the new council next year in consultation with NSW Health and the community.