Worried Bristolians are meeting tonight to fight plans for the enforced fluoridation of the water supply to every home in the city.
A feasibility study by NHS South West has already begun at the request of health trusts in the Avon area which, if deemed appropriate, can be pushed through thanks to new legislation that allows health authorities to compel water providers to fluoridate water after public consultation.
The process, according to the British Fluoridation Society, reduces the numbers of children and adults suffering from tooth decay and maintains it would be an important part of local health authorities’ oral health plans.
But campaigner Glenn Vowles, spokesman for Bristolians Against Fluoridation (BAF), says it is not ethical, doesn’t work, is not safe and not wanted.
Speaking ahead of the first meeting of BAF on Tuesday night, Mr Vowles said: “The lack of choice in whether fluoride is added to our water is the primary focus. The substance most likely to be used is fluorosilicic acid which is a waste product of the phosphate fertiliser manufacturing industry and is registered as a Class 2 poison under the Poisons Act 1972.
“There is no licence that has ever been obtained to use it as an additive to water, which is why you can see that 72% of people in Hampshire – who took part in a public consultation over plans to fluoridate water there – opposed the plans.
“We don’t want the decision imposed upon us. You will be depriving people of their choice not to have a medication – which is what fluoridation is.”
At present, local supplier Bristol Water does not – and has no plans to – fluoridate the water supply to the city. But the Water Act 2003 has allowed Strategic Health Authorities to impose a decision to fluoridate water.
The Drinking Water Inspectorate says the process is “very strictly regulated” and that the chemicals used must comply with strict European standards.
But Mr Vowles claims the science behind the case for fluoridation is “poor” and that is a “despicable” waste of public money to consult on the issue.
“Most of Europe has seen falling rates of tooth decay over the last few decades without the use of fluoridation,” he said.
“If you are going to deprive people of choice then you would at least want something that is essential and addressing a serious problem – and this is not the case.
“They will be spending £200,000 of public money on this consultation, which is despicable thing to do considering the 72% vote against in Hampshire.”