FLUORIDE is being added to the drinking water of more than 50,000 households in Yorkshire.
Around 56,000 homes in the Sheffield area receive supplies mixed with the mineral.
The figure, released under the Freedom of Information Act, comes as an official investigation into the pros and cons of mixing Yorkshire’s drinking water with fluoride takes place.
The measure, which is intended to stave off tooth decay in children but has raised health concerns from critics, is being investigated by the Yorkshire and Humber Strategic Health Authority (SHA).
But because homes in parts of Sheffield are supplied by Severn Trent Water and not Yorkshire Water, they already have a fluoride content in their water, Yorkshire and Humber SHA says.
The authority confirmed that fluoridated water is pumped to some homes in South Yorkshire due to technical reasons.
It said: “This is because of the complexity of the water supply system which results in fluoridated water being mixed with water from non-fluoridated waterworks.”
As reported by the Yorkshire Post the authority has been approached by Bradford and Airedale Primary Care Trust (PCT) and Kirklees PCT, which asked it to begin a feasibility study.
“Topping water up with more fluoride could be an effective way of helping to improve dental health and reduce health inequalities locally,” it said.
“The aim of the feasibility study would be to ascertain whether topping water up with more fluoride would be technically possible and cost effective in terms of achieving healthier outcomes.”
A spokesman for Severn Trent Water said the decision to add fluoride to supplies was beyond its control.
“The decision is taken solely by the health authorities and not by the water company,” a spokesman said.
“By law, it must first consult the relevant local authorities before reaching a decision on any new fluoridation proposals. In future, any new schemes must involve formal public consultation, organised by the SHAs.”
Critics have already slammed the step as little more than forced medication.
Calder Valley MP Chris McCafferty, who sits on an all-party group against fluoridation, said: “We’ve fought it off before and we’ll continue to oppose it.
“It’s medication without consent or dosage regulation and anyone who wishes may obtain fluoride tablets at the chemist or buy fluoride toothpaste.”
• Government says fluoride is “safe and cost effective” and ensures children in deprived areas are helped.
• Some countries add fluoride to table salt and milk instead of fluoridating the water supplies.
• Recent studies for the Government failed to find any evidence that fluoride added to water causes harmful side effects.