Note to MPs - stop buying into conspiracy theories about fluoride

The recent resurrection of the fluoride debate by a sitting LNP Member is just the latest example of pollies who alter reality to suit their particular brand of populism.

Perhaps Mr Woodforth wants to push his most fervently held ideological position onto the front pages before he loses his seat. Perhaps he thinks he can win the very marginal seat again by publicising wingnut theories which play well in his electorate. I’m not sure which depresses me more.

The tropes he repeats in that article, where fluoride is described as a ‘brain-altering chemical,’ go right back to post-war Europe.

IG Farben was a giant German company which made all sorts of industrial chemical products including dyes, photography materials, pharmaceuticals and agricultural chemicals. At its peak before the Second World War it was the 4th largest company in the world. Due to its intimate involvement in Nazi war atrocities, IG Farben was broken up by the Allies and Russians after the war and many of its senior management were tried for their crimes.

The light sentences handed out to these executives and strong links to other New World Order staples like the Rockefellers and Standard Oil, mean it has become the subject of a rich vein of conspiracy literature. The post-war history of IG Farben is a sorry tale of greed and power in its own right, and none of the people or groups involved come out of it with much credit.

So according to the ‘Conspiracy Planet’ website Farben had developed plans during the war to fluoridate the occupied countries because it was found that fluoridation caused slight damage to a specific part of the brain, making it more difficult for the person affected to defend his freedom and causing the individual to become more docile towards authority.

The gist of the fluoride conspiracy is that industrial chemical producers want to dump their fluoride-containing waste into the water supply. The benefit for them is that they get to cheaply dispose of waste products. The benefit to the various governments involved is that a population which drinks fluoride-containing water is much easier to control. The science which supports the health benefits of adding fluoride to drinking water has apparently been fabricated. To quote again from ‘Conspiracy Planet’ The ‘discovery’ that fluoride benefited teeth, was paid for by an industry that needed to be able to defend lawsuits from workers and communities poisoned by industrial fluoride emissions and turn a liability into an asset.

The problem for the cranks is that the science in favour of water fluoridation is very sound.

Even the seemingly strong argument that ‘mass medication’ is unethical or infringes human rights has been repeatedly struck down by courts all over the US.

Fluoride in drinking water in a dose range of between 0.6 and 1.2 parts per million (ppm) is able to reduce rates of tooth decay by between 20-40%. Communities with naturally occurring concentrations of over 4 ppm generally have their water treated to bring the concentration down. Excessive environmental exposure leads to the fluoride ions replacing calcium in teeth and bones. In teeth this only causes some discolouration but severe skeletal fluorosis can lead to brittle bones that are painful and fracture easily. Drinking water concentrations that lead to this severe effect need to be above 5ppm. Outbreaks of skeletal fluorosis have been linked to big volcanic eruptions, which can create atmospheric concentrations of up to 1000ppm for weeks at a time.

So having fluoride in the water at the standard doses allows for a huge margin of safety with what is still a very positive overall effect. A summary of the economic and public health benefits for Australia can be found here.

It’s ironic that a local MP with a background in fitness and bodybuilding is trying to leave a public health disaster as his political legacy. Mr Woodforth should wise up and learn some science instead of just googling conspiracy websites. Fluoride conspiracy theories are harder to kill than zombies, and just as brain-dead.