2017 Public Statement – Water Fluoridation and Human Health in Australia

Summary information

Publishing date: 
2017
Status: 
Current
Reference number: 
E44
Available in print: 
No - PDF only
Further information: 

On 9 November 2017, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) released the NHMRC Public Statement 2017 – Water Fluoridation and Human Health in Australia (2017 Public Statement).

This 2017 Public Statement recommends community water fluoridation as a safe, effective and ethical way to help reduce tooth decay, and a range within which NHMRC supports states and territories fluoridating their drinking water supplies.

The 2017 Public Statement is based on a comprehensive review of the evidence, published in 2016, and the translation of this evidence into the NHMRC Information Paper – Water fluoridation: dental and other human health outcomes, published in 2017. It also takes into consideration what the situation is here in Australia (compared to that in many countries in the northern hemisphere which have high levels of naturally occurring fluoride).

NHMRC has also published Water Fluoridation and Human Health in Australia: Questions and Answers to support the release of the 2017 Public Statement. NHMRC developed this resource in consultation with state and territory health representatives to assist them to provide nationally consistent messages on water fluoridation to the public (See Additional resources).

Background

NHMRC has publically supported community water fluoridation as a population health measure since 1952, and regularly reviews the scientific evidence on this topic. 

In 2007 NHMRC published a Systematic Review on the Efficacy and Safety of Fluoridation. Based on this work, NHMRC issued a Public Statement: The Efficacy and Safety of Fluoridation 2007 which recommends that water be fluoridated in the range of 0.6 to 1.1 mg/L.  Since the 2007 NHMRC review, new research has been published on the impact of water fluoridation and possible impacts on health.

Therefore, in 2014, NHMRC commenced a new evidence evaluation on the health effects of fluoride in drinking water to make sure that the evidence that underpins its advice (issues as a public statement) is up to date and relevant for the Australian community. The conclusion reached by NHMRC is that the existing body of evidence consistently shows that water fluoridation safely and effectively reduces tooth decay across the population at the current Australian levels.

Click here for further information about water fluoridation and human health in Australia.