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Tuesday, 6 September 1983
Page: 439

Question No. 40


Dr Everingham asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 3 May 1983:

Can he supply references to refute (a) Rapaport's 1959 findings relating Down's syndrome to Fluorine in Bull. Acad. National de Med. Paris 143 : 367, (b) G. L. Waldbott's findings of fluoride intolerance in Fluoridation-The Great Dilemma page 131, Coronado, 1978, (c) P. E. Zanfagna's findings in Allergy to fluoride, Fluoride Off. Quart. J.Intl.Soc. Fluoride Res. 9 : 36-41, 1976 and (d) Steyn's findings of endemic goitre in high fluoride areas in South Africa.


Dr Blewett —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(a) (i) Rapaport's findings relating Down's syndrome to fluoride intake were examined by a Royal Commission into the Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies, Hobart, 1968. The Commissioner was critical of Rapaport's methodology (pages 166 -167 of the report), and referred to an extensive investigation by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare of the United States of America, which showed no correlation between Down's syndrome and fluoridated water (page 168 of the report). The Commissioner found no evidence that fluoridated water caused Down's syndrome.

(ii) Erickson et al. (Journal of the American Dental Association, 1976: 93, 981 ) examined data relating to 1,387,027 births in U.S.A. and found no correlation between Down's syndrome and fluoridation.

(iii) The effects of fluoridation on the prevalence of congenital malformations in Birmingham (England) was studied by Knox et al. (Community Medicine, 1980: 2, 190). Birmingham's water supply was fluoridated in 1964. It was concluded that there was no evidence of specific teratogenic or general toxic effects resulting from fluoridation.

(b) In the investigation quoted by Waldbott, Roholm in 1937 had described skeletal fluorosis in workers who have been exposed to excessive amounts of fluoride for many years during the industrial processing of cryolite (sodium aluminium fluoride). Other studies have confirmed the hazard of the longterm intake of excessive amounts of fluoride. However, skeletal fluorosis does not occur at the low concentrations of fluoride used in fluoridation of water.

(c) (i) The possibility of allergy to fluoride was considered by the American Academy of Allergy which concluded that there was no evidence of allergy or intolerance to fluorides as used in the fluoridation of water supplies, (Austen et al. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 1971: 47, 347).

(ii) Claims that fluoridation of water caused allergic responses were considered by the Governor's Commission of Fluoridation in Minnesota. The Commission reported that it did not accept the claims of allergic reaction to fluoridated water (Anders et al. Report of the Governor's Commission on Fluoridation, Minnesota, 1979).

(d) Steyn's investigation concerning endemic goitre in high fluoride areas in South Africa was carred out in 1936. Subsequent research by Jackson and also by two investigators appointed by the South African Commission of Inquiry into Fluoridation (1966), found no evidence that fluoride in the drinking water was a cause of goitre. These investigations are referred to in the Report of the Royal Commission into the Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies, Hobart, 1968 (page 154). The South African Commission of Inquiry reported that there was no evidence of association between fluoride and goitre.