Controversial plans to add fluoride to drinking water in Portsmouth are to be revisited by senior health officials.
An announcement by health secretary Alan Johnson calls on health managers across the country to introduce fluoridation of water supplies, and he has been backed by city public health tsar Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones.
Mr Johnson claims it is an ‘effective and relatively easy way’ to reduce tooth decay among children in poorer areas.
Portsmouth Primary Care Trust abandoned earlier plans to call for a study into fluoridating the city’s water supply in 2006 because of strong opposition.
However the proposal is set to be resubmitted to board members later this year.
Portsmouth has one of the worst records of dental health in the south-east, and is worse than the national average. Five-year-olds have an average 1.8 decayed, missing, filled or treated teeth compared with 1.5 nationally.
Previous research in 1995 found that by using six ‘dosing points’, fluoride could be added to the water going into all homes in Portsmouth, south-east Hampshire and Chichester – only a couple of small areas around the Meon Valley would miss out.
Critics argue fluoridation can cause ‘fluorosis’ where teeth become stained and pitted, and has even been linked to bone cancer.
Peter Richards from Hampshire Against Fluoridation said: ‘We are totally opposed to mass medication of the population.
‘If they are going to medicate people they need to get individual consent. Fluoride is a registered poison. It is dangerous, it is not effective and it makes no economic sense.’
Director of public health and wellbeing Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones said: ‘I’m an advocate of fluoridation.
‘It is one of the key actions we can take to improve the oral health of our children in Portsmouth.
‘There is conclusive evidence to show where there is natural or added fluoride in the water there is a reduction in oral health problems.’