A COMPENSATION action is to be taken in the High Court against the State by parents who claim their child’s teeth were damaged by fluoride in their tap water. A group representing over 100 dentists opposed to fluoridation yesterday branded the continued State-sponsored mandatory fluoridation of drinking water “a ticking compensation timebomb”.
A review of medical data by the group published yesterday found the Republic has three times more fluorosis – damage to tooth enamel due to fluoride – than in the North, where the practice is banned. The damage has rocketed seven-fold from 1984-2002, they warned, with 40pc of 15-year-olds now suffering fluorosis damage.
At a news conference yesterday, the group claimed hundreds of water supplies have used fluoride illegally for the past 18 years.
The law requires that a legal order be made permitting addition of fluoride to tap water after a local survey of the dental health of schoolchildren is carried out.
The last such order was issued in 1987. Since then over 100 public schemes and 200 group schemes have been sanctioned, with fluoride added.
Highlighting studies indicating links between fluoride in tap water and health problems, the Irish Dentists Opposing Fluoridation (IDOF) group said there was “an epidemic of dental fluorosis in Irish children”.
Dr Don MacAuley, spokesperson, said the parents of a child were initiating a compensation claim against the State in the High Court. He said the family did not yet want to be identified. The Government was playing “a delaying game” on the matter, he continued. “How many more children need to be damaged by chemical fluoride before they put an end to the unsafe, unethical and outdated practice of water fluoridation?” he asked. “Dental fluorosis, seen as white lines and spots on teeth, is caused by swallowing too much fluoride and is the first readily detectable symptom of past chronic fluoride poisoning.”
The Department of Health said research on fluoridation under the National Epidemiology Research Programme indicated fluoridation was important to fighting tooth decay. A statement said fluoridation of public water is safe.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland said yesterday that bottled water should not be used for making up infant formula or as a drink for a baby, as mineral water may have a high solute content.
An FSAI spokesperson said their final report concluded that tap water should be used to reconstitute infant formula.
Robert Pocock of the Voice environment watchdog said he found most local authority water schemes never sought or obtained legal authority to add fluoride.
A Department of Health spokesman said all current schemes were legally fluoridated. An audit was being carried out in advance of the level of fluoride being reduced, on foot of a recommendation by an expert board. The Government has not yet implemented an official recommendation three years ago to reduce the fluoride limit in tap water, it was revealed yesterday.
The Health Executive stated a new lower legal limit of 0.6-0.8 parts per million of fluoride from the current legal limit of 0.8-1.0 parts per million recommended had not been implemented.