IRELAND’S water supply contains poisonous substances and poses a major health threat, according to a national health watchdog.
Dr Elizabeth Cullen, of the Irish Doctors Environmental Association (IDEA), has demanded that the practice of adding fluoride to water be stopped immediately. She said there was no evidence to show people were deficient in fluoride, and that it was in fact a poisonous substance with numerous health hazards.
Ireland is the only country in Europe which adds fluoride to its water.
Dr Cullen told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children yesterday that most other countries in Europe had rejected fluoridation more than 20 years ago.
“I know of no other drug whose dose is determined by how thirsty you are. We have absolutely no idea of the level of fluoride in blood and urine,” Dr Cullen said.
She also argued that the reason dental health has improved is not because of fluoride but because people took less sugar and brushed their teeth more regularly.
However, the Chief Dental Officer of the Department of Health, Dr Gerard Gavin, dismissed reports fluoride can be the cause of hip fractures.
Dr Gavin said it has been claimed the Republic of Ireland had a fracture rate 12 times that of Northern Ireland, where there is no fluoridation of the water.
This, he said, was not true, as the Department of Health had discovered that the fracture level between the two countries was almost identical.
Professor Denis Mullane, of University College Cork, also pointed out that the dental health of fluoridated areas in Donegal, Leitrim and Sligo was significantly better than nearby non fluoridated counties in Northern Ireland.
Prof Mullane said all the major cities in the United States and 47 of its states had fluoridated water. He also argued that before fluoridation of water in Ireland, dentists were extracting more teeth.
“Water fluoridation is highly effective in controlling dental decay. It does not cause a general health hazard,” said Prof Mullane.
“The cause of decay in Ireland is our frequent intake of foods with sugar. We’re top of the international charts when it comes to eating sweets.
“I do not believe that there should be a change in policy on fluoride. But that is not to say we should not continue to monitor effectiveness.”
Both Prof Mullane and Dr Gavin said the only side effect of fluoride can be enamel fluorisis, which can occur when too much is ingested.