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October 2, 2023

Anti-fluoride group prepares Federal Court challenge

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Fluoride Free Northern Rivers legal consultant Al Oshlack with the brief of evidence. (Darren Coyne)
Fluoride Free Northern Rivers legal consultant Al Oshlack with the brief of evidence. (Darren Coyne)

By Darren Coyne

An anti-fluoride group in Lismore is hoping to bring down the entire Australian fluoride industry with a Federal Court challenge.

Solicitors working for Fluoride Free Northern Rivers have prepared a brief of evidence for the challenge, which has been sent to a barrister for an opinion.

FFNR legal consultant Al Oshlack said the barrister’s opinion would determine whether a successful challenge could be mounted in the Federal Court of Australia which could force state and local water authorities to shut down fluoride dosing plants.

The brief of evidence that activists hope will bring down the Australian fluoride industry. (Darren Coyne)
The brief of evidence that activists hope will bring down the Australian fluoride industry. (Darren Coyne)

Anti-fluoride activists had hoped that the Lismore City Council, like Byron Shire Council, would ban fluoride in the city’s water supply. But when the last council supported fluoride, after being directed by the state government to do so, FFNR has been left with no other option but to challenge the entire industry.

The legal brief focusses on the fact that fluoride compounds being used for water fluoridation are not registered therapeutic products or are exempt from registration under the Therapeutics Goods Act.

In correspondance between FFNR and the TGA, the TGA responded that: ‘Fluoridated drinking water is not therapeutic goods within the definition of that term in (the act). The (TGA) thus has no role in regulating fluoridated drinking water’.

In documents sighted by Echonetdaily, the TGA Regulatory Assistance Section wrote to the Queensland Safe Water group saying ‘fluoridated water is not (and cannot be) therapeutic goods for the purposes of the Act’.

‘The TGA is not the sole arbiter of what is or isn’t a therapeutic good –it is a matter of law and can be interpreted by a range of agents, including the courts,’ the TGA said.

The legal brief points to a 2011 TGA order allowing ‘substances for use in the …treatment of drinking water, providing no claims are made for therapeutic use’.

Mr Oshlack believes the TGA’s admissions show that claims by water authorities including Rous Water and the local pro fluoride lobby of the purported therapeutic value of water fluoridation are unlawful.

‘It is ironical that the unseemly spectacle of our local representatives by one vote overturning Lismore’s 50 year opposition against fluoride has been the catalyst for us to try and mount this Federal challenge to close down the Australian fluoride industry once for all,’ Mr Oshlack said.

‘In the last 12 months locally there has been systemic break down of the Corndale plant spilling highly concentrated fluoridated water, requiring full hazard suited workers to clean up.

‘Rous and Lismore Council have still not disclosed where and how this toxic water was disposed.’

The proposed Federal court challenge follows a survey of prospective councillors prior to the recent local government election.

FFNR spokesperson Leisa Webb said the results of the survey showed that a majority of the newly-elected council were against fluoride.

‘The makeup of the newly-elected Lismore Council from our pre-election candidate survey clearly indicates that the council has reverted to its traditional 50 year position of opposing water fluoridation,’ she said.

Prior to the election, Isaac Smith, Elly Bird, Greg Bennett, Vanessa Ekins all said they were opposed to fluoride, while Cr Neil Marks and Ginapiero Battista voted in support during the term of the last council.  Activists believe newly-elected councillors Adam Guise, Darlene Cook, Eddie Lloyd and Nancy Casson would make up a majority against fluoride if they supported the position taken by the heads of their electoral groups.

‘The success of conservative councillor Greg Bennett could be explained by his opposition to fluoridation at the expense of the National Party pro fluoride advocate Cr Neil Marks,’ Ms Webb said.

But with a local government vote on the issue unlikely again in Lismore, the activists say they have no choice but to target the entire industry.

Mr Oshlack said it was hoped that the challenge would be lodged with the Federal Court by the end of the year following advice from the barrister.


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  1. There is one major problem with the FOs’ arguments against fluoridated water. The reason fluoride compounds being used for water fluoridation are not registered therapeutic products or are exempt from registration under the Therapeutics Goods Act is because several their actions are no more therapeutic than drinking water disinfection – the actions are protective. According to the WHO review referenced below, fluoride ions can kill decay-causing bacteria and interfere with their glycolysis metabolism that produces decay-causing acids – those are no more a “therapeutic use” than killing pathogens responsible for other diseases. However, fluoride ions can also be therapeutic by strengthening the enamel to protect the teeth against decay and remineralizing tooth enamel that has started to decay. Disinfection does not have the therapeutic component, and disinfection also creates disinfection byproducts which are in no way beneficial. Fluoridation is a multifaceted public health measure.

    If this absurd law suit is successful, fluoridation could still be implemented based on its non-therapeutic, protective properties.

    Furthermore, fluoride ions in bottled water at the same levels as found in optimally fluoridated water are not regulated as medications. Anyone can walk into a store and purchase bottles of fluoridated water – no prescription required. There are also no warnings required about possible effects of over exposure to the fluoride ions, because ingesting the amount of water required to cause harm from fluoride ions would kill someone long before noticeable fluoride-toxicity.
    The Food Standards Code allows between 0.6 and 1.0 milligrams of fluoride (including naturally occurring and added fluoride) per litre of bottled water. This is the same level recommended for drinking water to provide benefits for dental health.
    ~ Foodstandards(dot)gov.au/consumer/chemicals/fluoride/Pages/default.aspx

    Fluoridation should be decided on the ethics of employing all proven safe and effective methods to reduce dental decay and possible related health problems. The Scientific Facts that support community water fluoridation as a safe and effective public health measure are remarkably consistent.
    The World Health Organization (WHO) is just one of the more than 100 science and health organizations that recognize the public health benefits of drinking water fluoridation for reducing dental decay.
    ~ ada(dot)org/en/public-programs/advocating-for-the-public/fluoride-and-fluoridation/fluoridation-facts/fluoridation-facts-compendium
    The WHO released a report, Fluoride and Oral Health, earlier this year which contained an extensive history and review of the benefits and risks of exposure to fluoride ions. Some of the conclusions relevant to community water fluoridation are listed.
    == At the 2007 WHO World Health Assembly, a resolution was passed that universal access to fluoride for caries prevention was to be part of the basic right to human health. There are three basic fluoride delivery methods for caries prevention; community based (fluoridated water, salt and milk), professionally administered (fluoride gels, varnishes) and selfadministered (toothpastes and mouth-rinses).
    == Studies from many different countries over the past 60 years are remarkably consistent in demonstrating substantial reductions in caries prevalence as a result of water fluoridation. One hundred and thirteen studies into the effectiveness of artificial water fluoridation in 23 countries conducted before 1990, recorded a modal percent caries reduction of 40 to 50% in primary teeth and 50 to 60% in permanent.
    == More recently, systematic reviews summarizing these extensive databases have confirmed that water fluoridation substantially reduces the prevalence and incidence of dental caries in primary and permanent teeth. Although percent caries reductions recorded have been slightly lower in 59 post-1990 studies compared with the pre-1990 studies, the reductions are still substantial.
    == Fluoride is effective at controlling caries because it acts in several different ways. When present in dental plaque and saliva, it delays the demineralization and promotes the remineralization of incipient enamel lesions, a healing process before cavities become established. Fluoride also interferes with glycolysis, the process by which cariogenic bacteria metabolize sugars to produce acid. In higher concentrations, it has a bactericidal action on cariogenic and other bacteria. Studies suggest that, when fluoride is ingested during the period of tooth development, it makes teeth more resistant to subsequent caries development. Fluoridated water also has a significant topical effect in addition to its systemic effect (Hardwick et al., 1982). It is well known that salivary and plaque fluoride (F) concentrations are directly related to the F concentration in drinking water. This versatility of action adds to fluoride’s value in caries prevention. Aiding remineralization is likely to be fluoride’s most important action.
    == The question of possible adverse general health effects caused by exposure to fluorides taken in optimal concentrations throughout life has been the object of thorough medical investigations which have failed to show any impairment of general health.
    ~ who(dot)int/oral_health/publications/2016_fluoride_oral_health.pdf

    Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has been researching it for more than 60 years, and released its latest findings in September 2016.
    “Water fluoridation within the current recommended range in Australia (0.6 to 1.1 mg/L) is effective in reducing the occurrence and severity of tooth decay in children, adolescents and adults. In Australia, water fluoridation within this range can be associated with an increase in dental fluorosis. This is often not readily visible and it has no effect on the function of teeth. There is no evidence that water fluoridation within the current Australian range is associated with any adverse health effects.”
    ~ scimex(dot)org/__data/assets/file/0017/106523/16399-NHMRC-Fluoride-Information.pdf

      • ?? Provide my documented foundation??? Are you serious?? Randy did that all by himself. Who talks like that during a normal conversation… seriously? Well maybe your colleagues at the Fluoridation Society do… but no one else! Here’s how the rest of us talk…
        • if fluoride is so good for you why does 90% of the world not fluoridate?
        • Whats wrong with providing tablets for those that want it and leave the water alone?
        • Why should people that don’t need it be forced to consume it.
        • Is it true that HydroflurosilicicAcid used for water fluoridation is a byproduct of phosphate fertilizer production?
        • Is Fluoride classed as a neurotoxin?

    • You have a couple of problems with your argument. If fluoride is inhibiting bacteria in someone’s mouth that is much different than killing water-borne bacteria before it enters the body. The court could logically find that a therapeutic effect. Even if they don’t, the idea of making tooth enamel more resistant to acid attack would fall under the “prevention of disease”. I don’t know about the wording of the applicable laws in Australia, but in Canada, our Food and Drugs Act definitions clearly make fluoride a drug and legally that requires proof of efficacy and safety. Health Canada just ignores these requirements. If a similar thing is happening here, then the lawsuit has a good chance of success.

    • Can you force me to drink ot I don’t have teeth? and I think the side effects risks are not worth me drinking this drug. Let those who want it take the toothpast and/or the tablet. Pleeeezzzz
      What would the human rights court think?

      • The opposition to fluoridation is akin to the anti-vaccination movement, with many unsubstantiated arguments and strategies. It is very hard to understand the stance in light of the weak arguments that do not stand up to scientific scrutiny. It appears that many of the small but vocal group of critics lack relevant health training and fail to use carefully conducted scientific research to support assertions. While they have websites and organisations that attempt to provide an air of respectability and credibility, there is no respected health agency anywhere in the world that opposes fluoridation.

        School of Public Health, Curtin University, GPO Box U1987, Perth, WA 6845, Australia. 2015

    • Dental fluorosis only shows up in the teeth after the entire skeletal system has been affected by the Fluoride ions. Also, why is noone concerned about the heavy metals like lead, copper and cadmium that are added along with the fluoride due to the HFS mixture being contaminated? Trying to prevent tooth decay by adding fluoride to the water is like trying to kill a fly with a shotgun!

    •  Hi Randy J. I not going to blast out the information you give, just ask you, why the WHO organization at the same time said that in countries, that are circa 96% not fluoridate, the dental health is the same and even better in some one as they don’t had the disease called dental fluorosis!! Fluoridation with toxic industrial waste mostly fluorosis acid is used in AU and with imported rubbish from China too, but mostly from a fertilizing industrie in WA that in the data sheet show contain very dangerous heavy metal can be good for your health? The EPA classify such acid toxic and cannot be disperse in any way so the thousand of such poison is diluite at taxpayer expenses in the scheme water. The various organization controlled by politicians that nominate the people there are all pro fluoridation and make a living from that and other cover-up. The well Know Cochrane oral health review clearly is discredit as effective and secure not dangerous fluoridation. Also the prestigious Lance Journal report that such substance is a neurotoxin. Hundred of study support that is an increase of disease, including cancer in countries fluoridate and the WHO is like many other subject to wrong doing like any other organization. Country like India and China where the natural amount of fluorine, in some area are high had reduced the life expectance and cause bone deformation and other disease that are very debilitating.
      Why you not report the Cochrane recent review and the Lance journal one and all the other founding study? Look like to me that you are indottrinate or had some interest to support fluoridation with toxic vaste. Ions are beneficial that any good study and science evidence? Is acceptable to use toxic industrial vaste fluorosis acid ?
      My sincere regards

  2. The old saw about ” $1 invested …” is simply propaganda.

    Why would you spend the money to add fluoride to the entire water system when less than 1% of the water used is for drinking? 99% of the fluoride added to drinking water goes directly down the drain in toilets, showers, dishwashers, etc.

    So for each $1000 of fluoride added, only $10 is in water people drink, and only $1 is consumed by children. It is absolutely the most inefficient method of distributing a drug.

    What a waste of tax money. If you doubt any of this, ask your water manager.

    • That’s right jwillie6, only 1% is consumed but as Fluoride works topically and only about 5% of the consumed water actually makes contact with the teeth then only about 0.0005 or 0.05% of the fluoridated water is of any use. That means the numbers are even scarier. With so little of this chemical being of any use we might as well start charging China a fee for dumping their hazardous chemicals into our water supply and be done with it… at lease we’ll make a couple of bucks.

      • Niczee

        1. Countless peer-reviewed scientific studies clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of fluoridation in the prevention of dental decay in entire populations.

        2. In the entire 71 year history of fluoridation, there have been no proven adverse effects.

        3. At less than $1 per person, per year for fluoridation, there is no preventive measure which even approaches the cost-effectiveness of fluoridation.

        4. Peer-reviewed scientific evidence has demonstrated there to be no adverse effects on the environment from optimally fluoridated water.

        Given these facts, it makes no difference how much of the “chemical” is not used. Fluoridation works as it should, in the most cost-effective manner possible, with no adverse effects.

        By your “logic” water should not be chlorinated, as 99% of that chlorine is wasted. Everyone should instead be issued chlorine tablets to put in each glass of water before they drink it.

        Hopefully you are in charge of no one’s finances but your own.

        Steven D. Slott, DDS
        Information Director
        American Fluoridation Society

        • Hi Steve,
          1. Who funds these countless scientific studies you speak of? And please note I said funds… not conducts.

          2. See question 1.

          3. Wow, $1.00 per person per year. That sounds like its made by real chemists in a laboratory specifically for human consumption… not!

          4. Again, see question 1.
          Steven, if any of these studies were really conclusive why would they have to conduct them countless times… Hmmm?

          Actually we need to stop calling it fluoride and start referring to it by its real name – Hydroflurosilicic Acid. This hazardous waste product is illegal to dump anywhere on the planet and is extremely expensive to dispose of legally, unless you put it in a water supply and say its good for your teeth, then its miraculously legal. Go ahead, tell me Im wrong!

          Chlorine is added to water to kill the pathogens which it does very effectively to 100% of the water and has nothing to do with the Fluoride debate.

  3. If you want fluoride, then take it in a pill. How do you regulate the dosage? One kid drinks a lot of water, another has little. Just like immunisation, it’s Australia, the free country … as long as you do what your told!

    • I don’t think its legal to dispense any drug, supplement, treatment or whatever the hell classification Fluoride comes under without some sort of a label. Even basic instructions on how much and how often it should be taken. Try popping a bottle of Fluoride on a Chemists shelf without any contents, directions or warnings… it just wouldn’t happen. This is exactly what they’re doing here.

    • jwillie6 – Why would you spend the money to add disinfectants to the entire water system when less than 1% of the water used is for drinking? Disinfection also creates toxic disinfection byproducts which you are forced to drink. According to your logic communities should stop the disinfection of water so everyone can treat their own water and choose with complete freedom which chemicals they wish to ingest. Public health measures benefit all members of the community. Fluoridation opponents selfishly demand that water, customized to address their paranoid fear of a specific chemical, be piped to their homes – to heck with a public health measure that is proven to reduce dental decay and related health problems.

      Rossco Phillips asks “How do you regulate the dosage [of fluoride ions]? That question can be asked of all regulated chemicals (residual disinfectants, disinfection byproducts, fluorine, etc.). The answer – don’t over-dose on water. What fluoridation opponents don’t realize is that those who establish specific regulations for all chemicals in drinking water actually understand that people drink different amounts of water. The regulated Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for fluoride ions in the U.S. is 4.0 ppm.
      ~> “In response to EPA’s request, the NRC convened the Committee on Fluoride in Drinking Water, which prepared a report in 2006. The committee was charged to review toxicologic, epidemiologic, and clinical data on fluoride—particularly data published since the NRC’s previous (1993) report—and exposure data on orally ingested fluoride from drinking water and other sources.”
      ~> On the basis of its review, the committee was asked to evaluate independently the scientific basis of EPA’s MCLG of 4 mg/L and SMCL of 2 mg/L in drinking water and the adequacy of those guidelines to protect children and others from adverse health effects.”
      ~> The ONLY reasons provided in the report for lowering the MCL from 4 ppm were extremely specific. The report states, “Lowering the MCLG will prevent children from developing severe enamel fluorosis and will reduce the lifetime accumulation of fluoride into bone that the majority of the committee concluded is likely to put individuals at increased risk of bone fracture and possibly skeletal fluorosis, which are particular concerns for subpopulations that are prone to accumulating fluoride in their bone.”
      ~> NONE of the other health problems alleged by fluoridation opponents were listed as reasons to lower the MCLG – and there was certainly no recommendation to lower the MCLG to 0.
      ~> There were no recommendations to lower the SMCL below 2.0 ppm. If there were any concerns from drinking water with a fluoride content of 2.0 ppm those concerns would have been mentioned – There were no health concerns listed about drinking water that contains nearly three times the fluoride level of optimally fluoridated water.

      Lesley McMillan – Provide specific citations and quotes from any legitimate references or studies study that have proven drinking optimally fluoridated water causes thyroid problems (or any other health problems) for you or anyone else.

  4. Diagnosed with hypothyroidism 9 yrs ago I found it was caused by fluoride in the water supply. 6 months after I stopped ingesting Melbourne town water my TSH hormone levels returned to the normal zone. It has taken 8 yrs for one of my anti-body counts to recover. We have installed our own filtered rainwater tanks and plumbed them into our kitchen and bathroom at our expense plus ongoing costs of water filters. It is totally bizarre having to do this in a country such as Australia. The solution is incredibly simple – keep it out of the water supply and make it readily (and cheaply) available to those who believe these poisons are good for you – a win/win for EVERYONE. This shouldn’t be difficult as it’s a waste product from the fertilizer industry – the Australian Drinking Water Standards used to state the concentrations of impurities (arsenic, cadmium and lead) depended on the fertilizer industry but they have removed this statement in later versions.

    • Thanks for your wisdom on this topic. I too only drink rainwater from my tank and try to use only rain water on my garden too. The numerous toxins such as mercury, cadmium and lead that come along with our industrial fluoride dosing not only build up in the soil, but are lethal to the local frog population. Who in their right mind would support this noxious industrial waste being added to our water supply? Many of you it would appear from the responses seen here.

  5. Remember, if the arguments against fluoride were so good , you would think they would stand up to public scrutiny on their own merit, without legal help. Or threats of. If they have to take legal action to pass them, it is obvious they are not.

    Maybe that is why they need a lawyer in charge, To bully and threaten towns, because the fairy tales dont stack up.

    And also if the arguments against fluoride were so good, The illnesses and associated medical problems that fluoride is supposed to cause, at .7PPM, would have well and truly been investigated in the 70 years of its use, And what do we find as real evidence that will sway the authorities. Nothing

    And if the arguments against fluoride were so good , Why do they ban anyone from their social media pages who questions there ideology?Could be they cant answer the hard questions,

  6. I understand the figures still show that adding fluoride is still the cheapest, easiest and safest way to provide everyone with clearly defined dental benefits.

    And the alarmist talk of the fluoride industry, as if it’s some sinister force. Read your history books and see why fluoride was first introduced and how (by local governments).

    We will always have some level of fluoride in out water, unless you use only rainwater.


  7. I have always been horrofied at what the councils are blindly doing to people and themselves in the belief that they are benefitting the towns dental care. Where is the flouride sourced from? China? Chinese products are the devil. Contaminated and highly processed foods, suspect goods and all grown in a cesspool. America purchases their flouride from China. Im unsure where we get it from though.

    • Why do I have to be discredited with labels like alarmist, conspiracy theorist or activist if I publicly announce that I want clean, unpolluted drinking water? One things for sure, Id rather be an alarmist than a brain washed drone that can’t work out how to brush my teeth.

    • Really it does not matter about the source of the fluoride, it still has to pass all the international standards for water quality
      And if it comes from china so what. This is just scaremongering

  8. For decades most of Europe has added fluoride to salt (instead of water) along with iodide, using the same equipment, with the same improvement in dental health as results from fluoridating water. It’s about a thousandth the cost, and uses pharmaceutical grade fluoride instead of phosphate industry’s toxic waste. Why can’t Australia do this? We know the distribution works – goitre has vanished from the nation.

  9. maybe do away with seat belts or pool fences or … the dental problems in populations without fluoride is significant it is a no brainer. get out of the way of our children’s dental health.

  10. If you bothered to look at the local data sheets from your water authority You would find that clean unpolluted drinking water is only achieved by the addition of man made chemicals. These are a lot more dangerous and toxic than fluoride will ever be.
    Fluoride in any form is still a natural product
    You need to drink . 43,190 litres of fluoridated water everyday for 2 years before they saw any negative effects from the added sodium fluoride.
    Let’s put this into further perspective. Water by itself can kill at around 6-8 litres in one sitting… You would die from the water itself in fluoridated water well before you ever felt the toxic effects of the trace amounts of sodium fluoride contained in it.
    Can we put an end to this fluoride fear mongering please? Thank you.

    • Chris, you are absolutely right, Fluoride is a naturally occurring element. Unfortunately natural fluoride is not used for water fluoridation. Here’s a quick challenge for you, Google “Chemicals used for water fluoridation” and you will find Hydroflurosilicic Acid. Then Google “What is Hydroflurosilicic Acid”. You will find this element is anything but natural, Im not expecting to change you mind here Chris, just look it up and ask the question ‘Why do only 10 out of 196 countries fluoridate their water’. I’m sorry that you consider the debate as fear-mongering, there is a grave injustice at play here, please investigate with an open mind. Also you might want to check your links as they don’t seem to work properly.

  11. The world’s oldest and prestigious journal “The Lancet,” has officially classified fluoride as a neurotoxin!!
    In the same category as Arsenic, lead, and Mercury.
    Also in the report, they note that neurodevelopmental disorders, dyslexia, and other cognitive impairments, are now affecting millions of children worldwide in what they call a “Pandemic of developmental neurotoxicity ”
    Look at The Lancet Neurology, Volume 13, Issue 3, in the March 2014 edition..


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