21 May 2009

Southampton Daily Echo

Fluoride fear after chemical blunder
7:50am Thursday 21st May 2009
By Jon Reeve
FEARS have been raised over the safety of adding fluoride to Hampshire’s water, after an accident in Australia left residents drinking supplies containing 20 times their normal maximum dose.
An error during maintenance at a water plant in Queensland caused water with much higher levels of fluoride to be pumped through people’s taps.
The amount of fluoride drunk by residents near Brisbane was 30 times that proposed as the safe level for Southampton and the surrounding area.
Authorities insist the process of adding the chemical to the supplies of nearly 200,000 Hampshire homes, which could happen as soon as next year, will be completely failsafe.
But anti-fluoride campaigners say the incident Down Under – the first of its kind in the country – shows there are no guarantees and is another reason the contentious scheme should be scrapped.
“They always say they put in the technologies to ensure it can’t happen, but even things that supposedly can’t happen have a habit of happening,”
said chairman of Hampshire Against Fluoridation, John Spottiswoode.
“You can never be completely sure it’s going to work.
“You’re relying on technology, but there is always room for human error.
“It’s another reason to be wary of fluoridation.”
Homes in Queensland, where plans were announced earlier this year to extend fluoridation to cover all communities of more than 1,000 people, received the high doses at the start of the month.
Details of the error, which meant the fluoridation supply was not shut down along with the rest of the plant, have only just been released, prompting Premier Anna Bligh to reassure residents she believes there are no health risks.
A Southern Water spokeswoman said stringent safety checks will be put in place to ensure dosing errors cannot happen.
“Systems will be designed to be fail-safe,” she added.

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