News stories – Result tight-lipped: Dentist urges council to listen to expert advice

This article was originally published in print in The Herbert River Express on February 25 2017

THE results from Hinchinbrook Shire Council’s independent fluoride phone survey on Monday night will not be for public consumption just yet.

Council hired independent market research company ReachTEL to poll 600 residents on whether they wanted to keep fluoride in the town’s drinking water supply.

In a statement, CEO Dan McKinlay said the fluoride survey results were planned to be reported to the March Council meeting. He said this Tuesday’s meeting agenda was closed.

“Council needs to fully consider the results of the survey before making a decision and simply will need adequate time to do this,” Mr McKinlay said.

Queenslanders for Safe Water, Air and Food president Merilyn Haines said she was disappointed at council delaying the releasing of the results.

“With Mackay, they did the survey on the Monday night, the results were released a week later in the agenda for the council meeting,” Ms Haines said. ReachTEL polled 1137 Mackay residents and found 39 per cent supported fluoridated water, 46 per cent were opposed to it and 14 per cent were undecided.

Ms Haines said the public should be allowed to know what the results were in a timely fashion. “The ratepayers have paid for the survey, so they should know as soon as possible,” she said. “Council has known all week.”

ReachTEL’s website states survey results can be returned on the same day or overnight.

Australian Dental Association spokesman Dr Michael Foley said he would like to stay positive in relation to the results.

But he said he feared campaigns from the anti-fluoride movement raised too many doubts in people’s minds.

“As a dentist, I’ve extracted far too many teeth, particularly on little children,” Dr Foley said. “I’ve seen far too many swollen faces, and admitted far too many children to hospital in pain.”

“I urge Hinchinbrook Shire Councillors to listen to medical, dental and public health experts, reject lies and irrational scaremongering from ignorant fringe groups, and ensure better dental health for Hinchinbrook residents into the future.”

More than 150 major health organisations, including the World Health Organisation, support water fluoridation.

A three-year University of Queensland study released last year showed levels of tooth decay in children dropped 19 per cent in the Logan-Beaudesert area since the introduction of fluoridation.

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