A campaign group last night called on people in the Highlands to oppose Government plans to add fluoride to national water supplies.
Highland Movement Against Water Fluoridation (HMAWF) claims too much artificial fluoride can lead to thyroid and allergy problems, osteoporosis, and various forms of cancer.
At a public meeting in Inverness last night, the group rallied the public to oppose the move.
At present, none of Scotland’s public water supplies contain artificial fluoride.
A Scottish Executive consultation document on oral health among Scottish children published last month showed a poor record of dental health and set out a series of proposals to address the problem, including fluoridation of national water supplies. The document showed that over 60% of children from the country’s deprived areas had dental problems by the age of three, and that 250,000 teeth were extracted from children because of decay each year.
Tooth extraction also accounted for the majority of general anaesthetics given to children in hospitals.
Last night, the campaigners described the fluoridation plan as “mass medication”.
It said the project would be a strain on the public purse, with the cost of installing equipment running to £30million and annual running costs reaching around £4.4million.
“We believe putting fluoride in the water is mass medication and we are campaigning for the right to refuse it,” said HMAWF chairwoman Lois MacDonell.
“The reason for calling this meeting is to raise awareness, to provide an opportunity to discuss the proposal.”
Around 50 people attended the event, which featured three guest speakers – George Glasser, director of the National Pure Water Association, the association’s campaigns director, Jane Jones, and Sheila Gibson, a complementary medical practitioner and former Government adviser on fluoridation.
The three claimed fluoridation undermined public health and said the Government had not carried out enough research or addressed public concerns.
Mrs Gibson told the audience that fluoride can displace iodine in the body’s thyroid gland, causing thyroid problems. The chemical could also create complications in the pancreas, kidneys, immune system and brain.
In Birmingham, where the water supply was fluoridated in 1964, she said there was a higher incidence of neo-natal deaths, diabetes and spinal defects than anywhere else in the UK.
Mrs Gibson questioned why these figures seemed to be much higher than those for other areas.
“I would suggest that until the answers to these questions are known, no fluoridation schemes should be introduced anywhere else,” she said.
“There is no way a poison like fluoride should be added to any food or drink. Mass medication is not allowed in medical circles and there is certainly no way we would be allowed to prescribe medicines to people we had never even met.”
The consultation on the fluoride plans ends on December 31.