Water fluoridation in NSW began in 1956. Currently NSW has one of the highest levels of water fluoridation in Australia, with 95% of the population having access to fluoridated water. In NSW, there is one part of fluoride in one million parts of water. An extensive testing program is in place to monitor the quality of drinking water supplies on a monthly basis and the quality of water supplied meets the requirements of the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. In NSW the legislations and regulations that govern water fluoridation are Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies Regulation 2002, andFluoridation of Public Water Supplies Act 1957.
There are many theories about the health effects of fluoride. It is suggested that fluoride is linked to the development of a rare form of bone cancer, osteosarcoma. This suggestion originally arose from a 1990 study by the American National Toxicology Program which found a link between water fluoridation and osteosarcomas in male rats who were given water with high doses of fluoride. However, these findings have not been replicated since.
In 1987, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reviewed the evidence on the safety of fluoride in drinking water, concluding that the evidence isinconclusive and it is therefore impossible to state that fluoride does or does not cause cancer. IARC is a part of the World Health Organisation which convenes international expert working groups to evaluate the evidence of the carcinogenicity (cancer causing properties) of specific exposures. A number of reports issued by different US and UK government bodies and research institutes since the publication of this IARC report have concluded that there is no link between water fluoridation and cancer risk in either animals or humans. Additionally, in 2007, theAustralian National Health and Medical Research Council conducted a systematic review of studies on this topic and produced a report recommending the continuation of fluoridating the water supply.