A GROUP of Irish dentists are to sue the Minister for Health, Micheál Martin, for continuing to fluoridate drinking water.
The dentists, who are breaking ranks with the Irish Dental Association, plan to lodge papers with the High Court after handing a letter of protest into the Dáil on Friday.
The move comes as the Forum on Fluoridation set up by the minister to examine both sides of the fluoride argument completes its report, due to be published by the end of the month. The forum was branded a rubber-stamping exercise by the dentists planning to sue the Government.
The group of 20 Irish Dentists Opposing Fluoridation maintain that health authorities have not fulfilled their obligation under the 1960 Health Act to carry out regular surveys into the health effects of fluoridation.
Spokesman Dr Don MacCauley said the department had never carried out a comprehensive survey, although international research has linked fluoridation to cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, hip fractures and thyroid disorders. A study published in American medical journal NeuroToxicity found that fluoride exposure could produce lower IQ levels in children.
Up to 50% of Dr MacCauley s teenage patients have dental fluorisis which has been linked to fluoridation which creates white spots or lines on teeth and causes tooth enamel to chip, he said.
The agent used, hydrofluosilic acid, is a waste component of the fertiliser industry and contains traces of chromium, mercury, arsenic and lead, according to Dr MacCauley.
Ireland is now the only country in Europe to insist that drinking water be fluoridated, although nine county councils, two corporations and seven urban district councils have voted to end fluoridation.
Dr MacCauley said the group opposed fluoridation because medication is being administered without consent, the public has not been fully informed of the risks and side effects and fluoridation causes dental fluorisis.
Kildare-based GP Andrew Rynne is taking a separate case against the Government and the Irish Medicines Board (IMB) on the grounds that, although fluoride is a medicine, it is not licensed by the IMB.
A Health Department spokeswoman said all the issues raised by Dr MacCauley had been covered by the Forum on Water Fluoridation. However, she declined to comment on the contents of the report in advance of its publication.