THE issue of adding fluoride to Bolton’s water has resurfaced after it emerged the town is one of just three in Greater Manchester yet to make a decision.
Health bosses in Bolton have not asked regional health chiefs to produce a fluoridation plan and NHS primary care trusts (PCTs) have until the end of this month to submit their request to NHS North-west.
Trusts in Manchester, Bury, Trafford, Oldham, Tameside, Stockport, Ashton, Leigh and Wigan have already approached NHS North-west.
If all of Greater Manchester’s PCTs give the go-ahead then a public consultation will be launched late next year.
Bosses in Bolton say they are finalising their recommendations and will present them to the board on October 22, which will make a decision.
Jan Hutchinson, director of public health for Bolton NHS PCT, said: “My personal view is that we should ask NHS North-west to look into the matter further, but we haven’t made a decision as it hasn’t yet been to the board.
“It’s also my personal opinion that adding fluoride to Bolton’s water would make a big difference to the dental health of the borough’s children.”
The first water supplies to be fluoridated were in the USA over 50 years ago after it was found that it can act to reduce the acid that causes tooth decay.
However, anti-fluoride campaigners claim it can cause cancer, osteoporosis, organ and genetic damage.
Bolton North-east MP David Crausby is calling for a referendum on the plans.
He said: My view is that this is mass medication and individuals should be able to decide whether or not they take medication, which is why I’m opposed to the addition of fluoride into Bolton’s water supply.
“If it’s important to have a referendum on congestion charges then it’s vital we have one on fluoride.
“People can choose whether they drive into Manchester but they can’t choose whether or not to drink water.”
Bolton has some of the worst dental health in the country, with youngsters aged five having an average of 2.5 teeth missing, decayed or filled, compared to the North-west average of two and a national average of one.
Schemes to add fluoride to the water supply could cost between £35 million and £102 million to set up.
In the UK, fluoridated water is supplied to around 5.5 million people.
The most extensively fluoridated region in the is the West Midlands.