A COUNCIL’S move to examine the possible benefits of adding fluoride to the water supply has been defended, with a leading councillor claiming the authority would be “negligent” if it did not investigate the issue.
Campaigner Michael Watson told a meeting of Darlington Borough Council the authority was too financially stretched to afford to “waste vital resources” on “thoroughly old technology that has no significant effect” on tooth decay rates for children aged five to 17.
He said: “I note that Darlington Borough Council are committed to alleviate period poverty experienced by some schoolgirls in this borough, but the lure of mass medication could fatally compete with this laudable aim.”
Darlington resident Mr Watson told members US studies had shown children in areas with fluoridated water have higher levels of lead in their blood, while other research had concluded lead in teeth and bone can triple if fluoride and lead are present together.
He said: “Should this council press on with water fluoridation, the silico-fluorides which you will authorise have the potential to dissolve lead from the many, many miles of old service pipes in this borough, especially in the presence of ammonia and chlorine, both current treatment chemicals. It is important that baseline blood and urine tests for fluoride and lead are carried out on our children before any other decision is made.”
Councillor Cyndi Hughes replied that, the council had not made any financial contribution towards ending period poverty in the town and that all the council had agreed to was take part in a technical appraisal examining the possibility of fluoridating water in Darlington and across the Tees Valley.
Cllr Hughes said: “We agreed to this technical appraisal because we would be negligent in our duty if we didn’t explore the latest evidence available to protect our children from such possible procedures.
“This is not giving us, nor indeed or any of the Tees Valley authorities anything. It is simply investigating the possible benefits to the inhabitants of our sub-region. We are not rushing head-long into anything and we will certainly be bound by precautionary principle, expert scientific research and the views of the public before any decision is made.”
However, she told the council chamber that British Society of Paediatric Dentistry figures showed in 2014/15 there were 63,196 children’s hospital admissions for dental extractions and that dental caries was by far the most common reason for children aged five to nine to be admitted to hospital.
• Sept 25, 2017: ‘Sometimes it is half the mouth being taken out’ – Darlington consultant says children as young as 4 having rotten teeth removed
• April 17, 2018: Tooth decay sparks move to add fluoride to Darlington’s water
• May 13, 2018: Adding fluoride to Darlington’s water supply is examined
• June 28, 2018: Study proposed over adding fluoride to water supply in Darlington or across Tees Valley
• July 3, 2018: Fluoride concerns as Darlington and Tees Valley water supply study is launched
• Sept 7, 2018: Fluoride in Darlington water supply inquiry
• Sept 13, 2018: Fluoride in water study in Darlington is supported