Fluoride occurs naturally in many public water supplies.
Surface water and many bore waters used for drinking water can contain concentrations of natural fluoride up to one milligram per litre (mg/L). Fluoride is also found naturally in some foods and beverages.
The Health (Fluoridation) Act 1973 regulates the fluoridation of drinking water supplies in Victoria.The fluoridation process adjusts the concentration of fluoride in drinking water to a value set by the Act.
Water supplied to Yarra Valley Water customers is fluoridated at water treatment plants by Melbourne Water.
Areas that do not currently have fluoride added to the water supply are in the water sampling localities of Emerald, Woori Yallock, Yarra Junction, Warburton, Healesville and Yarra Glen. Sampling localities may include a number of suburbs and are outlined in our Water Quality Annual Reports.
You can find more information about the fluoridation of water supplies in Victoria, including a complete list of suburbs receiving fluoridated water, on the Department of Health and Human Services website - www2.health.vic.gov.au
Why add fluoride?
Fluoride in water helps prevent tooth decay. It is particularly effective in protecting children's teeth while they are forming and helps reduce dental decay in adults' teeth.
The amount of fluoride added to your water supply is less than one milligram per litre of water which is proportionally equivalent to one grain of sugar in a cup of water.
How do we control the amount of fluoride supplied?
Fluoride dosing plants are located at the outlets of all major storage reservoirs located to the north and east of the city. Continuous monitoring and automated fluoride dosing control at each treatment plant ensures the level of fluoride in the water delivered to your tap is within specified guidelines.
Independent testing of fluoride is also carried out at specified customers' taps throughout the water supply system.
These fluoridation plants are designed to raise the natural fluoride concentration of the water supply up to the optimum concentration with very high precision. In the fluoridation plants, a fluoride solution is added to the water supply well upstream of consumers' taps to allow mixing and even distribution of fluoride in the water before consumption.
How do we measure the amount of fluoride added to your water?
The amount of fluoride in your water is measured and added in accordance with guidelines set by the 1987 National Health and Medical Research Council and the Australian Water Resources Council.
The acceptable fluoride concentration range for Melbourne is between 0.7 and 1.2 mg/L, with the optimum concentration being 0.9 mg/L.
Is fluoridation safe?
The introduction of fluoridation in drinking water has been assessed in detail and the numerous scientific studies and commissions of inquiry completed world-wide and in Australia reaffirm the lack of adverse health problems associated with the fluoride concentrations used in public water supply systems. Major studies have also substantiated initial claims that the improvements in dental health come at a minimal cost to the community.
Who supports fluoridation of drinking water?
Fluoride in drinking water is supported by the:
- Royal College of Physicians (UK)
- World Health Organisation
- Australian Dental Association
- Australian Medical Association
- National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia
- American Public Health Association
- National Institute of Dental Research and National Institutes of Health (USA)
- Centres for Disease Control (USA).
Fluoridation is recognised as a safe and effective public health measure demonstrated to improve the dental health of the community.