The Girl Against Fluoride (Photo: http://www.thegirlagainstfluoride.com/)
The 50-year-old battle to get fluoride(s) out of the Irish water supply kicked into high gear this summer as (impromptu) strippers thronged St. Stephen’s Green in support of a Sinn Féin bill, which is currently before the Dáil, to ban the controversial practice.
Leading the campaign is Aisling Fitzgibbon, a 26-year-old nutritionist from Tralee, who is taking the government to court. She has more than 8,000 supporters, including musicians Paddy Casey and Christy Moore.
Aisling has been stripping in public to highlight how the Irish government’s forced fluoridation policy puts her health at risk – by stripping her of her right to drink unmedicated water. Her mother Martha, who is a teacher, suggested the campaign might get more attention if Aisling took her clothes off, after her earlier attempts to highlight forced fluoridation as a human rights abuse in Ireland, were largely ignored.
Aisling is working with activists from Ireland and across the world, including the Fluoride Action Network and veteran Northern Ireland campaigner, Walter Graham. Graham managed to unite enemies such as Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley to defeat UK Government plans to fluoridate Northern Ireland’s water in the 1990s. Graham has recently been advising the current Sinn Féin environment spokesperson, Louth TD Brian Stanley, who presented his bill to ban fluoride(s) in the South to the Irish government in May.
Former Portlaoise mayor Brian Stanley first became aware of the links between water fluoridation, thyroid illness and cancers after he read an article by former hunger striker Briain MacUaid. Stanley’s mother died from thyroid cancer in 1995, so he was determined to address the issue when Sinn Féin gave him the environment portfolio in 2011.
Stanley maintains that it’s now generally accepted that the main action of fluoride on dental enamel is topical, so there is little benefit from drinking it. Babies are particularly at risk, because their bodies have not developed the ability to filter out toxins. And the effect of fluoride is cumulative; as he puts it: “There is no logic to putting it in every cell in your body. It was brought in when not everyone in Ireland had access to toothpaste. That is not true now.”
Walter Graham visited Dublin City Council recently to highlight the studies linking fluoridated water with health problems. He urged Dublin councillors to tell the Irish government that mandatory fluoridation is too risky to continue. So far this year, five local authorities, Kerry, Skibbereen, Carrickmacross, Clonakilty and New Ross, have told the Irish Government that it should stop the expensive practice, which costs an estimated €15m per annum.
Environmental Scientist, Declan Waugh, came to Leinster House along with Aisling Fitzgibbon in July to explain the links he found between fluoride(s) in water and a long list of health conditions. Waugh has spent more than two years comparing statistics on the different rates of illness in Ireland and non-fluoridated Northern Ireland. His 2012 Report found that early onset dementia is 450 times more common in the Republic than in the North. Waugh also believes that Ireland’s very high rate of Down’s Syndrome may be related to fluoride(s). Studies show that areas with fluoridated water have higher rates of Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, kidney disease, thyroid illness, arthritis and eczema.
University of Ulster toxicologist, Professor Vyvyan Howard, warned in February that babies drinking bottles made with Irish tap water are overdosing on fluoride. He points out that 33 scientific studies now link fluoride(s) in water to lowered IQ in children. Howard is a UK government advisor to DEFRA and a nanotechnology expert. The most recent study, in July 2012, showed a difference of seven IQ points between those who drank fluoridated water and those who did not. “From a population perspective, this is highly significant,” explains Professor Howard, “because it would cut the number of geniuses by at least 50%, and almost double the number of mentally handicapped”.
Overdosing is occurring, he confirmed, where infants are fed formula milk made with fluoridated tap water. “A baby drinking formula made with fluoridated tap water at 1 part per million gallons will get 250 times more fluoride than a breast-fed baby,” he stated.
In 2006 PhD researcher Elise Bassin found that young boys exposed to fluoridated water between the ages of six and eight had a five to seven times higher risk of dying from osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer, by the age of 20. Professor Howard says the Bassin study: “indicates that water fluoridation may actually be killing a few young men each year.”
The government’s response is that water fluoridation is: “at the optimal level,” the Irish Expert Body on Fluorides is satisfied that fluoridation is not harmful. Fine Gael confirmed that Minister Reilly is working closely with the expert body to keep this issue under review. The decision to fluoridate Irish water was made by Fianna Fáil Minister Sean McEntee in 1962. He was opposed back then by Dublin mother-of-five, Gladys Ryan. Gladys died in February this year. Declan Waugh dedicated his 2012 and 2013 reports to her.
Aisling continued campaigning the day after her Dáil meeting with a 1pm strip at St. Stephen’s Green, followed by an evening of poetry and music to raise money for her court case. She is planning a bigger concert this Autumn.