I was shocked to discover that the anti-fluoride organisation Fluoride Free NZ had purchased advertising time on TV3 (one of the major NZ broadcasters) to promote their agenda against community water fluoridation (here’s the ad). They point out that local councils are purchasing hydorfluorosilicic acid for the purpose of fluoridation. They then claim that this hydorfluorosilicic acid is a “waste” product of the fertilizer industry and that it contains lots of “bad chemicals” responsible for serious health concerns. Oh, and to visit their website for some “facts”. Let’s look into what reality says:
Firstly, to suggest that “hydrofluorosilicic acid is commonly known as fluoride” is ludicrous. They are not the same thing. Given that water fluoridation has been found to be safe and effective, it makes sense that anti-fluoride campaigners have turned their aim onto hydrofluorosilic acid. While it is true to say that hydrofluorosilicic acid is a by-product of another chemical process (The NZIC have produced a document describing the production process of hydrofluorosilicic acid), what’s the matter? A molecule of an something is the same regardless of where,how or for what it was produced. To call hydrofluorosilic acid a waste product is no more than a matter of perspective. One could easily descirbe the production process as efficient and sustainable, since the by-products don’t need to be dumped and a whole new facility exclusively producing hydrofluorosilic acid doesn’t need to be built.
It’s not clear why they claim that hydrofluorosilic acid contains toxic elements. Of course, they also omit any information about the concentration of these materials (which are always going to be present in water in very small amounts). In terms of the dissolution of hydrofluorosilicic acid in water, Ken who runs the Open Parachute blog addresses the claims made by anti-fluoride campaigners. In short: hydrofluorosilicic acid is more convenient to use than sodium fluoride (which is found in toothpaste, just check the tube). Since both compounds dissolve in water to give fluoride ions, their effects are the same. The silicates that exist in solution are not any more highly concentrated compared to unfluoridated water and they are not capable of causing corrosion in pipes.
Be sure to check out some of Ken’s other posts regarding the matter of water fluoridation, he has written some excellent posts addressing the claims made by anti-fluoride groups and individuals over the past several years. In particular, his posts which cover the legal action taken by anti-fluoridation interests that was supported by Big Natural Health! (see here and here).
I find it supremely ironic that Fluoride Free NZ has the nerve to go on TV and imply that water fluoridation is part of some conspiracy by Big Business to shirk costs when anti-fluoride action has been bankrolled by corporate interests! I’ll bet many people never imagined a concept such as Big Natural Health actually existed. After all aren’t they supposed to be the good guys? No, “natural health” products are made in factories from chemicals (gasp!) just like most other products these days. (John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight did a segment highlighting the power of the Natural Health industry).
So excuse me if I’m dismissive of Fluoride Free NZ and their attempt to mislead the public about water fluoridation. Given the track record of anti-fluoridation campaigners, it is not worth listening to them. It is disappointing that TV3 decided to broadcast this ad. It is my opinion that they have not lived up to their moral obligation to present their viewers with accurate information. Given the financial issues that TV3 has experienced in the past, it comes as no surprise to me that they would do anything for a few dollars.
We deserve better than Fluoride Free NZ and we deserve better from TV3.