09 Dec 2021

Calling time on fluoride

Laois county councillors want to abolish the practice of adding fluoride to drinking water.

Laois county councillors want to abolish the practice of adding fluoride to drinking water.

At their monthly meeting last week, Cllr Alan Hand requested the Council to call for the end of water fluoridation, as he had done the previous year.

“Aproximately €4 million is spent nationally, 97 per cent of the EU doesn’t add fluoride and there is a growing body of research pointing out the negatives of this practice. We could do great things with that €4 million,” he said.

He was seconded by Cllr Jerry Lodge while Cathaoirleach Cllr Paul Mitchell heartily agreed.

“It is an absolute scandal. In Japan and Chile when they discontinued it, oral health improved dramatically, the same in Sweden and Finland. We are the only country in Europe still putting it in. I cannot understand this, it would save the council €50,000. We should ask the Minister for Health, this is mass medication, it shouldn’t be allowed,” Cllr Mitchell said.

Cllr Hand pointed out that the Department of Health would overrule any decision to end fluoridation, as it would be against regulations.

The HSE oversees fluoridation of the public water supply, refunding the cost to local authorities.

It was introduced in Ireland in 1964 to prevent tooth decay in children. In 2007 the levels were reduced to 0.7ppm, less than half the maximum level permitted in the EU. An EU review in 2011 was “unable to conclude that water fluoridation posed any risks to human health or the environment”.

The Dental Health Foundation Ireland says that if stopped, “the nations dental health would deteriorate over time to the point were the average 5 year old could expect to have four to five more decayed, missing or filled teeth”.

“This is not mass medication, it is simply an adjustment of a naturally occurring element in water in order to prevent tooth decay, like adding vitamin D to milk,” the foundation says.

However public opinion continues to turn against the practice. Ten local authorities, Dublin, Kerry, Sligo, Donegal, Leitrim and Longford, and seven Urban District councils have voted against fluoridation, and the Consumers Association of Ireland are also against it, on the grounds of a lack of choice for consumers.

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