Kota Kinabalu: The Health Ministry plans to seek a clarification from the Water Department after fluoride was found absent in water supplies.

Deputy Health Director (Dental), Dr Dzulkifli Salleh, said on Saturday that his officers will meet with officers from the department this Jan 29, demanding the status of the water fluoridation programme.

He explained that only natural fluoride could be found in the water at present.

Last year, the ministry installed a number of fluoride feeders in several water treatment plants and also gave allocation for the purchase of the fluoride chemical.

Dr Dzulkifli said the department could have faced some delay, following a late purchase of the chemical.

The fluoride programme was re-introduced to Sabah’s public water supplies in 2011, under the 10th Malaysia Plan, despite warnings over its disadvantages.

Incidentally, Sabah also records the highest number of dental problems in the country.

Deputy Health Minister Datuk Rosnah Shirlin has also noted that excessive fluoride content in the water can alter appearances of children’s teeth during developing years.

Skeletal fluorosis, for example, could weaken bones, while fluoride poisoning could cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, she said.

However, no instances have so far been recorded here in Sabah.

“The major point is if we could monitor in detail the administration and the formulation of this fluoride salt in the public water by the Water Department, I am sure, would be very safe,” she assured.

She also assured that a back-up system is in place to handle any eventualities.