A group of Irish dentists who oppose fluoridation have called for an investigation into why a report from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), which contained concerns about allowing infants to drink fluoridated tap water, was ‘buried’.
Speaking to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health, Dr Don MacAuley, chairman of Irish Dentists Opposing Fluoridation (IDOF), said that the FSAI report would have signalled an end to fluoridation.
Dr MacAuley was presenting evidence of irregularities relating to the Forum on Fluoridation, which was set up in May 2000 by Health Minister, Micheal Martin, to examine the contentious issue of water fluoridation.
The forum’s final report was published last September. It recommended that the fluoridation of piped water supplies should continue as a ‘public health measure’. However it also recommended that levels of fluoride should be reduced, ‘in light of both international and Irish research which shows that there is an increasing occurrence of dental fluorosis’.
Supporters of fluoridation insist that the practise is safe and that the dental health of residents of fluoridated communities is considerably better than that of residents living in non-fluoridated communities.
However opponents of fluoridation are concerned about ‘mass medication’, fluorosis (damage to the enamel of the teeth), dental cavities and other health risks they claim are linked to the practise.
Speaking at the Joint Committee, Dr MacAuley said that the FSAI submitted a risk assessment report to the forum in 2001 which concluded that bottle-feeding infants should not use tap water, as they could be overdosing on fluoride. However this report was not referred to in the forum’s final report.
Dr MacAuley also expressed concern that the majority of members of the forum ‘have a pro-fluoridation bias’ and that the final report ignored the fact that levels of tooth decay remain low in many parts of Europe where fluoridation is not practised.
Following the meeting, the Green Party called for a further hearing on fluoridation to clarify why the FSAI report was not included in the forum’s final report. Meanwhile Fine Gael said that the notion of a mandatory mass medication scheme is ‘repellent and becomes frightening when one considers the dosage ingested by an individual is impossible to measure’.