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Home > News > Fluoride dosage blunder as treatment plants again fail health guidelines

# by Patrick Lion # From: The Courier-Mail # April 08, 2010 7:53PM

SOUTHEAST Queensland's fluoridated water has breached health regulations again as the Bligh Government admits treatment plant problems could continue to cause dosage errors.

A Queensland Health report reveals two out of the region's five treatment plants missed regulated health guidelines again during the final quarter of last year.

Plants at Molendinar on the Gold Coast and North Pine in Brisbane both underdosed water supplies in the three months to December 31.

Health regulations state the average measured fluoride concentration should be between 0.7mg/L and 0.9mg/L.

But supplies at North Pine recorded an average of 0.42mg/L, while the two water mains at Molendinar had only 0.6mg/L and 0.31mg/L.

SEQ Water spokesman Mike Foster yesterday admitted disappointment with the results but said supplies with as little as 0.4mg/L still offered health benefits.

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"SEQ Water is disappointed that not all five major water treatment plants ... are providing water fluoridated to the regulated level," he said.

"SEQ Water will continue to take a safety-first approach to the blending of fluoride into the water supplies."

The State Government-owned authority had predicted late last year the fourth-quarter results would be within guidelines because plant problems would be resolved.

But the quarterly report blames the breaches at the Molendinar plant on repairs to flow meters and switches and other modifications, while North Pine was still ramping up after being taken off line last May when it overdosed supplies 13 times above the maximum.

Mr Foster yesterday warned the commissioning issues may take longer to iron out.

"SEQ Water expects to start to hit required concentration levels on a more consistent basis over 2010 and beyond," he said.

But Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek said it was extraordinary the Government could not get the $35 million program right.

"It might have benefits at lower levels but clearly there is an optimum level," he said.

"For all the money they are spending, the benefit for the community is at the regulated level and this Government can't deliver it."

The Government has been scrambling to fix problems since the fluoride rollout last year. The North Pine overdose served water with 19.6mg/L - 13 times the 1.5mg/L maximum - to hundreds of homes.

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