Health fears and the lack of choice in receiving fluoride were the main objections made in the 1,050 submissions. The forum was set up by Minister for Health, Mr Martin, last September to review the fluoridation of public water supplies. It will report to the Minister in October.
According to Dr Paddy Flanagan, chairman of the forum’s sub-committee on public consultation, just 10 to 12 per cent of the submissions favoured the mass fluoridation of water.
“There were great concerns around areas such as osteoporosis, cancer and sclerosis. People mentioned about 14 different conditions that they, rightly or wrongly, attributed to fluoridation.”
Dr Flanagan said every view would be carefully examined and the forum would then come to a decision on the validity of these views.
Some submissions expressed the fear that people would exceed recommended levels of fluoride if they followed health advice to drink eight glasses of water a day. Others had concerns about the accuracy and skill used in adding fluoride to the public water supply. The effect of fluoridated water on infants drinking formula was also raised.
In one submission, a woman pointed out that while the option to buy non-fluoridated water was available, she could not afford to buy bottled water.
While most people strongly objected to mass fluoridation, they were not as strongly opposed to alternatives such as fluoride tablets, fluoridated toothpaste and fluoridated salt, Dr Flanagan said.
However, several people objected to the difficulty in getting un-fluoridated toothpaste, particularly in rural areas.
Fluoride was first added to the public water supply in this State in the early 1960s, following research that showed tooth decay in young children was lower in areas where drinking water contained natural levels of fluoride, at around one milligram per litre.