Galway city council has passed a motion calling on the government to ban the practice of fluoridation in Irish drinking water.
The motion was passed at the council’s meeting yesterday, gaining support across the political spectrum.
Dublin City and Cork County councils have already passed motions calling for an end to the practice.
The Galway County Council motion calls for the members to register their opposition “based on documented research that shows a decrease dental caries in all western countries irrespective of whether the water is fluoridated or not, as well as research which shows the effect of fluoride to be topical not systemic (ie works at the location not through the body)”.
It also calls on the Government to organise a national referendum on water fluoridation in the next 18 months, which will “educate the public thoroughly on both sides of the debate and allow their voice to be heard”.
It was brought by independent councillor Jim Cuddy, who told TheJournal.ie that he had been contacted by a number of constituents.
“There has been a concern about how much fluorine is in the water. We know that fluorine isn’t excreted by the human body. It’s the indiscrimate medication of water.
“It’s important that the Minister for Health makes a statement that it is safe and stands over that.
“People are drinking and it is staying in their bodies.”
The Irish Dental Association says that there is no issue with the safety of fluoridation. The practice is supported by all of Ireland’s dental schools and the dental associations of 27 countries representing 370 million people.
Fintan Hourihane of the IDA told TheJournal.ie that dentists support fluoridation on health grounds.
“The important thing to say is that the Department of Health is investigating the issue through the Health Research Board and a report will be published in the coming weeks.
“We have always promoted water fluoridation, we don’t see any valid medical evidence for banning it.
“There has been 15 peer reviewed studies and all have found that it helps dental health.”
The two most recent major studies on the issue, from the health boards of England and New Zealand both found that at existing and recommended levels, fluoridation is safe.
The Royal Society of New Zealand report says that the process should be expanded.
“Given the caveat that science can never be absolute, the panel is unanimous in its conclusion that there are no adverse effects of fluoride of any significance arising from fluoridation at the levels used in New Zealand. In particular, no effects on brain development, cancer risk or cardiovascular or metabolic risk have been substantiated, and the safety margins are such that no subset of the population is at risk because of fluoridation.
“Our assessment suggests that it is appropriate, from the scientific perspective, that fluoridation be expanded to assist those New Zealand communities that currently do not benefit from this public health measure – particularly those with a high prevalence of dental caries.”
The Public Health England report found no evidence that cancers or any illness were more prevalent in fluoridated areas.
“The report provides further reassurance that water fluoridation is a safe and effective public health measure. PHE continues to keep the evidence base under review and will use this report as part of an ongoing dialogue with local authorities before publishing a further report within the next four years.”
The Department of Health says that the issue is one which is monitored.
“The Irish Expert Body on Fluorides and Health, which operates under the aegis of the Department of Health, monitors new and emerging issues on fluoride and its effects on health and related matters. The Expert Body advises that the balance of scientific evidence worldwide confirms that water fluoridation, at the optimal level, does not cause any ill effects and continues to be safe and effective in protecting the oral health of all age groups.
“The Department of Health keeps water fluoridation policy under constant review. As part of this ongoing work, a review of evidence on the impact of water fluoridation at its current level on the health of the population is being conducted by the Health Research Board on behalf of the Department. This review is currently being finalised.”