Published studies by medical researchers in the UK and Spain indicate that the highest fluoride levels by far found in beers consumed in Europe are in Irish branded products.

These findings are disturbing, not least because they present yet another form of uncontrolled exposure to fluoride from contamination of the food chain due to mandatory water fluoridation in Ireland.

Water and beer however are not the main dietary sources of fluoride in the Irish population – the main source is tea.


Since the 1930s, tea has been acknowledged as a major source of dietary fluoride. In 2006, the USA National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies of Science (NAS) in their review of fluoride in drinking water, noted that just half a cup of brewed tea with a fluoride concentration of 3.3 mg/L equals the total background intake of fluoride from all other food sources.

Over 30 years ago, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in the UK reported that tea infusions in England contained fluoride concentrations far higher than the maximum level permitted in drinking water, and observed that tea was the main source of dietary fluoride exposure in the UK population.

Since then, many similar studies conducted in the UK have reported extremely high fluoride levels in tea products. Indeed, many commercial brands of tea bags include up to 9 mg/L of fluoride. Thus, an average tea drinker who consumes four cups of tea a day can significantly exceed the tolerable intake of fluoride from tea consumption alone.

Paradoxically, when Ireland commenced water fluoridation, tea was not even considered by the Department of Health. In 1963, per capita consumption of tea was approximately 4.54kg per person per year, and 3.43 kg per year in 2003.

Most people are aware that the Irish are serious tea drinkers but few realise we are the highest per capita tea drinkers in the world and have been for almost a century.

The Irish State and its institutions in their enthusiasm to promote and protect the policy of mandatory water fluoridation have demonstrated an astonishing display seemingly intended or otherwise complacency of not addressing cumulative exposures to fluoride and dietary exposure to fluoride from tea consumption in Ireland.

In 2013 I wrote to the Minister for Health and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland addressing this concern. But along with many other communications, my correspondence was largely ignored.

In response to this lack of action, I undertook along with academics in the USA and Canada, the very first risk assessment of fluoride intake from tea in Ireland. The study was published in an international peer-reviewed public health journal in 2016.

As with UK studies, our data shows that tea products in Ireland also contain excessive concentration of fluoride. Tea consumption in Ireland however is significantly higher than the UK, and all public water supplies are artificially fluoridated compared to about 6% in the UK.


Given Ireland has both the highest per capita consumption of tea and mandatory water fluoridation, it is justifiable to ask why no risk assessment has ever been undertaken by the State or its institutions since water fluoridation commenced in 1964, and why there has been no biomonitoring of the general population to accurately establish the long-term exposure to fluoride and total body burden in the general population.

The answer simply is that the State seemingly does not want the public to know, as that would highlight its negligence in protecting the public from chronic fluoride intoxication.

To highlight this apparent indifference, I submitted yet another correspondence to the Irish Authorities in December 2017. Unlike my other submission, this one was co-signed by many respected academics, scientists, medical doctors, midwives, neurologists, psychologists, biochemists, molecular and cell biologists, toxicologists, nutritionists and experts in paediatric medicine; as well as historians, poets, educationists, songwriters, musicians, actors, filmmakers as well as hundreds of citizens and parents across the length and breadth of Ireland.

This submission follows yet another I submitted in May 2016 where I sought specific declarations from the Irish State regarding the safety of fluoridated water; details on risk assessments undertaken and information regarding cumulative exposures to fluoride.

Eighteen months on I still haven’t received a response to this correspondence, and based on history, it’s likely I won’t receive answers to the current submission either.

What does this say about the Irish State and its institutions?

* Declan Waugh works freelance in the field of environmental science, due diligence and risk

*Original article online at