Michael Lusk


Hon. Matthew Swinbourn MLC
Environment and Public Affairs Committee Legislative Council

Parliament of Western Australia

15 September 2017


Petition no 016 – Oppose fluoridation chemicals to public water supply in Kununurra


Dear Mr. Swinbourn,

In my capacity as an interested person, I write in support of the Kununurra residents currently petitioning the Legislative Council to recommend that fluorine not be added to that town’s public water supply. By this submission I direct the Committee’s attention to several important points of statewide application. There is much more at stake than the Kununurra residents’ claim for local self-determination. I wish to appear before the Committee as a witness to elaborate on my submission.

Fluoridation of a public water supply is a Commonwealth criminal offence

Australian health departments (including WA Health), the NHMRC and the ADA each represents that artificially fluoridated water (“fluoridated water”) is for preventing dental caries. That claim brings fluoridated water within the meaning of “therapeutic goods” as defined in the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (“TG Act”), whereby it is important to observe that nothing in s. 3(1) of the TG Act indicates that fluoridated water is not caught by that definition. Nor has fluoridated water been excluded from the operation of the TG Act by means of a determination made under s. 7AA thereof. The Commonwealth therefore is legally required to enforce its therapeutic goods registration and listing scheme in relation to fluoridated water.

The TG Act makes it a criminal offence to manufacture or supply unregistered therapeutic goods in Australia. Fluoridated water is not registered in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods. Accordingly, each of the three WA water corporations – especially the Water Corporation – have committed a great many corresponding offences under the TG Act. Thus, each corporation has regulatory liabilities of very large but unknown extent for which, so far as I have seen, no provision has been made. The Committee may wish to discuss this matter with the Treasurer and the Minister for Health.

By s. 8 of the Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies Act 1966 (“FPWS Act”), members of the Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies Advisory Committee (“FPWSAC”) are, to some extent, exempted from personal liability for anything done or omitted in that capacity. However, s. 8 is one of several provisions of the FPWS Act which apparently is inconsistent with the regulatory scheme established by the TG Act. By virtue of s. 109 of the Commonwealth Constitution, each such inconsistent provision is, to the extent of the inconsistency, invalid. Exemption from liability for FPWSAC members may prove to be illusory. These are matters which the Committee may wish to discuss with the Attorney-General and the Minister for Health.

Michael Lusk


Fluoridated water does not prevent dental caries

Thirty years ago, the world’s most prestigious general science journal published an article by Australian statistician Mark Diesendorf entitled “The mystery of declining tooth decay”: Nature, 322:125-129, 1986. Diesendorf’s paper is valuable in the Australian public health policy context because it provides an antidote to NHMRC’s anti-scientific stance that only Australian medical research is applicable to Australian human beings. Diesendorf demonstrated that in Australia – just as in Europe and North America – caries experience in children dramatically declined during the 20 years from 1963 to 1983. Moreover, in Australia – just as in Europe and North America – socioeconomically comparable populations showed the same welcome improvements in children’s dental health to the same extent whether or not the corresponding population was treated with fluoride. In relation to Australia, Diesendorf compared for1977 – 1983 unfluoridated Queensland with the remaining States and ACT, each 70% fluoridated or more at the time.

This means that, given the policy objective of preventing dental caries, population-level fluoride treatment (accomplished systemically by water, milk or salt fluoridation) is found to be of no measurable benefit when compared with no population-level fluoride treatment. The Committee should pay attention to this research result because it is of considerable public health significance. It means that the State can save substantial money – without affecting dental health outcomes – by eliminating water fluoridation.

More recently, British professor of public health K. K. Cheng et al. updated Diesendorf’s results in an article published by a leading medical journal and entitled “Adding fluoride to water supplies”: BMJ 2007; 335.
It includes schematic chart comparing statistical dental decay data for 12-year olds across a range European countries during the four-decades from 1965 – 2004, showing continuation of the pattern reported by Diesendorf. The charted data presented by Cheng et al. are from the Country/Area Profile Project (“CAPP”) database established in support of the WHO Global Oral Health Program for oral health surveillance.

I re-charted this data set in full detail and more extensively, to include Australia, New Zealand and the US. A copy of my chart appears at Annexure A of my affidavit dated 28 April 2017 filed in matter
SYG 1354/2017, currently before the Federal Circuit Court in Sydney (first document in this collection). The CAPP data set spans six decades. It shows populations under systemic fluoride treatment approaching a limit of improvement in the range 1.0 – 1.5 DMFT-12 during 1995 – 2000. Australia’s dental health results have gradually deteriorated since 2000, perhaps associated with the increasing incidence of dental fluorosis. By comparison, some northern European populations not subject to systemic fluoride treatment (or rates thereof below 10%) showed further improvement down to the range 0.5 – 0.7 DMFT-12 by 2014.

Fluoride is medically harmful

It is proven beyond doubt that fluoride is both a nephrotoxin and a neurotoxin. Fluoride is not in any natural human metabolic pathway. It is both irrational and a misuse of language for NHMRC to establish “nutrient reference values” for a hazardous pharmacological substance which is supposed work on contact, not systemically. Fluoride’s known nephrotoxic and neurotoxic effects have not yet manifested with markedly greater frequency in populations treated with fluoridated water compared with other populations. That will remain so while relatively few individuals exceed the toxic dose. Frequency of negative outcomes can be expected to increase as fluoride accumulates in the bones of those treated since the 1960s and as population aging increases the part of the population with lowered tolerance to toxins.

Yours sincerely,


Michael Lusk