19 February, 2014

Water fluoridation scientific review: risks and benefits


The aim of the Water Fluoridation Scientific Review and Synthesis is to provide local body decision makers and the general public with a comprehensive and up-to-date understanding of the available scientific evidence on the benefits and risks of fluoridation of the municipal water supply.


The project will consider the relevant peer-reviewed scientific literature from New

Zealand and internationally. The review is primarily aimed at scientific evidence of physical risks and benefits to humans. Non peer-reviewed and ‘grey literature’ will be ruled out of scope except in identifying issues that may need to be addressed or where the literature represents the work of respected scientific bodies (eg national academies).

Empirically-based social science literature in the field of public health ethics and normative decision-making regimes may be considered, but are not the primary target of the review.

Project governance structure

Project to be jointly chaired by Sir Peter Gluckman and Sir David Skegg, President of the RSNZ

Expert Panel to be established by the RSNZ with input from co-chairs

Expert Panel to include one lay member as Observer

Sir Peter Gluckman’s office to appoint qualified academic writer/ coordinator to interface with Expert Panel


Project co-Chairs and science writer/ coordinator to identify high-level headings for the review report and consult with Ministry of Health for their suggestions of issues needing coverage

RSNZ to invite experts onto panel in accordance with the identified headings and with the following minimum membership:

  • Scientist – Public health Epidemiologist
  • Scientist – Public health (dentistry specialty)
  • Scientist – Toxicology
  • Other relevant scientific experts …
  • Lay observer – a respected member of the public

Royal Society NZ to convene one-day Expert Panel meeting to be attended by the science writer/ coordinator

Panel members will be expected to present a state-of-the science briefing in their particular areas of expertise. The synthesis should include:

What is known and not known

Areas of consensus and any areas of debate in the literature c. …

Science writer will:

  • Summarise the Expert Panel briefings
  • Supplement the briefings with independent review of the literature including any relevant Cochrane Systematic analyses.
  • Prepare a synthesis report in accordance with the identified headings and/or any emerging headings recommended by the Expert Panel
  • Draft report to be circulated to Expert Panel for review and comment
  • Final draft report will be peer reviewed by two international experts to be identified by the Expert Panel and vetted by co-Chairs .
  • Peer reviewed report to be submitted to funders (Auckland City Council, Ministry of Health) and made publically accessible online at www.pmcsa.org.nz and www.royalsociety.org.nz


1April: Project Start writer appointed and will start supplementary review of the literature co-Chairs to identify key headings

RSNZ to begin Expert Panel recruitment

17 April: Recruitment and appointment to Expert Panel completed

15-30 May: RSNZ convene Expert Panel for state-of-the-science briefing June 15: first draft report circulated to Expert Panel for feedback

6 July: Report sent for international peer-review and review by Ministry of Health July 30: Report finalized

7 August: Co-Chairs’ cover letter completed

15 August: Report provided to Ministry of Health and Councils

22 August: Report published