At a public meeting, held last night in Douglas, well-respected Professor of Chemistry, Dr Paul Connett, issued a fresh challenge to Dr Paul Emerson, of the Public Health Directorate, to publicly debate with him the pros and cons of adding fluoride to the Island’s water supply.
Dr Connett stated that despite having 5 weeks advance notice, Dr Emerson was unable to attend tonight” so he was prepared to return in 5 months time to try again. Hopefully that will be sufficient notice for Dr Emerson. He added, just in case nobody shows up from Public Health on the next occasion, he will be bringing his ‘Chicken’ tie.
Dr Connett was brought to the Island to assist the Campaign, by the Isle of Man Campaign for Non-Fluoridated Tap Water, to raise the public’s awareness to the 12 month ‘consultation’ announced by Department of Health and Social Services Minister, Eddie Teare, MHK, in February this year.
The Island is reported as having the worst dental decay rates in the British Isles. In response, the Public Health Directorate has for many years advocated the introduction of fluoride to the public water supply as, “one extremely effective intervention that will help us to deal with this major public health problem.” They also claim, “Water fluoridation has an excellent safety record world-wide.”
Dr Connett is disdainful of these types of views – “you sprinkle pixie dust in the water and it protects kiddies’ teeth!” He doesn’t think so.
In an hour long power-point presentation he made clear as to why he is so opposed to this unethical method of mass medication, for which the risks are high, possible benefits small and has no adequate margin of safety. He referred to pro-fluoridation research that was of dubious standing, and that many of the potential adverse health risks had never been researched.
He cited papers that had shown a link between fluoridation and a reduction in IQ, increased hip fractures and kidney problems.
Dr Connett emphasized that fluoride acts topically, on the surface, and not systemically, through the body. He equated drinking fluoridated tap water, to protect your teeth, to swallowing sun-tan lotion, to protect your skin” a ludicrous notion.
One brave member of the public, retired head teacher and chemistry graduate Donald Quirk, questioned Dr Connett’s partiality and stated that they had been putting fluoride in tap water in Birmingham for 50 years with no ill-effects” and they had some of the best oral hygiene in Britain.
Dr Connett retorted that they also invest more money in dental treatment in that part of the country.
Peter Karran, MHK, a former Chairman of the Water Authority warned the meeting that he was concerned that the new water treatment plants were capable of adding fluoride. He said there were questions over the new Customs agreement, and its impact on revenues, and that if cutbacks were needed in public services fluoridating the water could be seen as a cheaper option.
It was put to Dr Connett, by Andrew Jessopp, that he had visited the Island about 10 years ago to warn the public of the dangers of dioxins from incinerators” and that he had had little success in convincing our politicians not to build an incinerator. What made him think he would be any more successful this time?
Dr Connett suggested that as fluoridating the drinking water would effect everyone on the Island, as opposed to the perception that only those living near an incinerator would be effected by its emissions, he was more optimistic on this occasion.