By Jake Beleski
Masterton people now have access to fluoride-free water with the installation of a tap on Manuka Street, but some are calling for more drastic change.
The idea of supplying non-fluoridated water came from submissions made to the 2015-2025 Long Term Plan.
The unit cost $5000 to install, with another $5000 spent to connect to the Opaki Water Supply.
Fluoride Free New Zealand national co-ordinator Mary Byrne said it was a step in the right direction, but more extreme change was needed to combat fluoridation concerns.
“What we think is that for people to say fluoride works is ludicrous. It’s good of the council to give people a choice, but why not just encourage people who want fluoride to use fluoride toothpaste?”
Masterton’s water supply comes from the Waingawa River and the water is treated at a plant at Kaituna before being piped 8km to the urban area.
Treatment includes adding chlorine as a disinfection and fluoride as a public health measure.
New Zealand was behind the rest of the world in regards to eliminating fluoride, she said.
“The messages being given to the public are misleading. Only about five per cent of the world fluoridates, and 98 per cent of Europe does not. Ideally there should be a tap with fluoridated water installed and the rest of the supply should be left unfluoridated.”
Ms Byrne said top fluoridation promoters had identified fluoride has to be applied to the teeth to work, not swallowed.
The long-term effects of fluoride were not yet known, but would be discovered in the coming years, she said.
“The people that were using fluoride from the start are only 40 or 50 years old, so how can we know? We know it has recently been identified as a neurotoxin, with traces of heavy metals including mercury and lead.”
Masterton resident Stephen Butcher has been a strong advocate for the availability of fluoride-free water for the public, and identified the progress in Petone as a benchmark that Masterton should work towards.
“We would like to see our water supplied to the public the way it comes out of the ground – clean and fresh. Petone is what we want in a nutshell – people can go down to the CBD and get fresh water from the fountain.”
The process had been long and drawn out, although it was good to see progress being made, he said.
“It has been a long time and throughout the process a number of us were asking about it. They’ve kept it pretty quiet – I didn’t know it [fluoride-free tap] was there.”
Masterton District Council spokesman Sam Rossiter-Stead said the idea was first mooted in June 2015 after they had received a number of submissions.
“It’s not a particularly new development. Through the submissions we decided to make the decision which the people involved were informed of.”