The government is to release the report of the Fluoridation Forum before the end of September.
The Department of Health has been under increasing pressure from the EU and opposition parties to release the report, which was completed over a year ago. Fine Gael MEP Avril Doyle said the delay “shows an irresponsible lack of concern for the health and welfare of Irish citizens”.
Ireland and Singapore are the only countries that have a national fluoridation policy. Since fluoridation was first proposed to counter poor oral hygiene in the late 1950s, 98 per cent of Europe has rejected the treatment.
“The report has been suppressed because the health minister knows continued fluoridation undermines his claims for a forward-looking and patient-centred health system,” said Robert Pocock, spokesman for environmental group Voice.
He also said that 89 per cent of people who had made applications to the Fluoridation Forum said they did not want the policy to continue.
The US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) recently admitted that it did not fully understand how the fluoride chemical behaves when added to drinking water.
“Our health authorities have always lent heavily on the US for information on fluoridation, so where does this recent admission leave the Irish government’s pro-fluoride stance?” Pocock asked.
There have been no national health tests since the 1960 Health Act, which legalised fluoridation of drinking water, was passed.
The Labour Party and the Green Party oppose the addition of fluoride to the country’s water supply. Last year, ten local authorities and seven urban district councils voted against fluoridation, but remain bound by the law to implement the policy.
In Northern Ireland, 25 out of 26 local authorities voted in 2000 to veto the introduction of fluoride.
A spokesperson for Minister for Health Micheal Martin said that although the minister supported fluoridation, he was awaiting the publication of the report before making any long-term policy decisions on the matter.
The fluoride introduced into water supplies in Ireland is an untreated by-product of the fertiliser industry, largely imported from Europe by Albatross Fertilisers of New Ross, Co Wexford. “We supply the product to the highest specifications required,” A spokesman for the company said.