Government moves that could lead to fluoridation of most or all of the UK’s drinking water supplies are being fought by local authorities nationwide. The row will erupt in the Commons today when MPs take part in the Second Reading of the Water Bill.
Peers voted in favour of smoothing the way for water companies to put fluoride in their supplies when the Bill was debated in the Lords during the summer.
Because, although firms have had the power to do this since 1985, they have not done so for fear of legal action from consumers opposed to it. Now there is growing unease about the proposal from some local councils, including Brighton, Bradford and Lancaster, which have all declared their opposition to the Government plan.
There is also criticism from the Green Party and the National Pure Water Association They are stepping up campaigns to mobilise public opposition to fluoridation.
Margaret Wright, the Green Party’s principal speaker, said: ‘If people knew that the chemical used in fluoridation is a toxic waste product, they’d be horrified.
‘But the ‘fluoride’ that is added to drinking water is hexafluorosilic acid, it comes from the pollution scrubber liquor used to clean chimneys in phosphate fertiliser factories and it’s never been safety tested for human consumption.
‘Fluorosilicates are listed under the 1972 Poisons Act. It’s illegal to prescribe them. There is currently an inconsistency in the law in that they can be added to drinking water.
‘But if the new Water Bill goes through unamended, strategic health authorities will be able to compel their local water company to fluoridate the supply.
‘The Water Bill will require health authorities to consult and ensure a majority of local people are in favour before they fluoridate.’
Water industry sources said: ‘We are not talking about the benefits or disadvantages of fluoride. We want it recognised that it’s a decision for health authorities after consultation with consumer bodies. But there has to be genuine consultation.’