A study on the safety of fluoride in public drinking supplies will not be available until 2012 – more than five years after Green Party leader John Gormley promised to outlaw the chemical if elected to government.

It is already nearly three years since the study was promised in the Programme for Government. But the examination of fluoride’s safety in drinking water will not even begin until this summer.

Fluoride has been added to public water supplies for decades to protect teth by preventing cavities. But some researchers have concerns about its impact on human health.

Mr Gormley campaigned strongly against fluoride before the election. He promised in March 2007 to ban fluoride from water supplies if he was electd to Government.

It was subsequently agreed in the Programme for Government between Fiann Fáil and the Greens that a study would be undertaken on its safety.

Health Minister Mary Harney confirmed yesterday that the Health Service Executive(HSE) will use a new monitoring programme to collect information regarding the total exposure in the population to fluoride.

The monitoring will begin in July and no details were available last night as to how it will work. But the results will not be available for another two years.

As Green Party spokesman on health, John Gormley led a campaign against fluoridation. He maintained that countries throughout Europe which do not fluoridate have better dental health than Ireland.

The Department of Health has defended the use of fluoride in drinking water and said there is no evidence to indicate it is not safe.

A spokesman for Mr Gormley said he believes the study, when it is completed, will be comprehensive and he “awaits its results”.

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See response: Act on fluoride study now by Robert Pocock, Irish Independent, Feb 19, 2010.