Fluoride Action Network

Irish Sunday Mirror Investigates: Activist takes on state over chemical in our water

Source: Irish Mirror | March 23rd, 2014 | By Adelina Campos
Location: Ireland

Health problems link to high level of substance

Public pressure to end fluoridation is mounting as water charges are due to kick in this summer.

Protesters against the chemical compound being used have stepped up their campaign with Killarney, Co Kerry, expected to become the latest “Fluoride Free Town”.

Last month, Bantry in west Cork was the first town to be granted the title after six businesses installed filtration systems so their customers could enjoy fluoride-free food and drinks.

This week, Cork County Council passed a motion against the element.

And Aisling FitzGibbon, dubbed the “Girl Against Fluoride”, is planning to launch a legal action in the High Court in the hope it will force the Government to end a 50-year-old policy which is costing taxpayers up to €4million a year.

The 27-year-old told the Irish Sunday Mirror: “We have sent off letters to all the different agencies involved in the case but we are going to be taking a court case very shortly against the Irish Medicines Board.

“We hope the case will go through this year and that we will be able to bring in experts from abroad.”

Aisling, who is originally from Tralee, Co Kerry, became involved in the campaign after she discovered first-hand some of the negative effects of fluoride.

When it is ingested in doses above the recommended daily allowance, it has been linked to dental problems, the weakening of bones, kidney injury and thyroid problems.

Aisling believes fluoridated water led to a reduction of her thyroid function, which causes hormonal imbalance and depression.

Aisling FitzGibbon with Christy Moore

She explained: “I started looking into this issue four years ago and went to a nutritionist in the UK because I had been suffering from depression from the age of 19 to 23.

“I had been treated by medical doctors here and I was getting worse and I didn’t know what was going on with my system.

“So this nutritionist was the first person who mentioned to me the impact of fluoride on the thyroid gland.

“She explained it was important for me to install a filter to remove it from my water and to only drink non-fluoridated water and only cook with that as well. I followed her advice and after a few months I had completely recovered.

“I was delighted and decided to do a bit more research into it and that’s when I found out 98% of Europe don’t add it to their water and some countries banned it because they consider it to be toxic.

“When you think about it like that, it sounds far-fetched. Why would our Government add anything to the water that might not be good for us?

“It just doesn’t seem fitting in this day and age so I want people to understand this anti-fluoride campaign is not just some sort of hippy issue, it’s serious and affects everyone.

“And with the water charges coming in, we have the right to ask what’s in our water? What are we paying for?”

Aisling FitzGibbon with Senator David Norris

The Government introduced fluoridated drinking water in 1964 after studies in the US showed it might help improve dental health.

But European countries have achieved that through education and by providing affordable toothpaste to tackle plaque.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health insisted the Government is constantly reviewing its policy on the issue to ensure it is not dangerous for the public.

She said an investigation by the Evidence Centre team within the Health Research Board will begin a review on the effects of the scheme next month.

The representative added: “The Forum On Fluoridation, which reported in 2002, advised the fluoridation of piped public water supplies should continue as a public health measure.

“The balance of scientific evidence worldwide confirms 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 National Survey of Children’s Oral Health in 1984 found lifetime residents of fluoridated communities had substantially lower levels of dental decay than lifetime residents of non-fluoridated areas.

She claimed the North/South investigation into Children’s Oral Health in 2002 found similar results.

The spokeswoman said: “While an estimate of savings is not readily available, these studies show the benefits of water fluoridation in Ireland since its

“The Department of Health keeps the policy of water fluoridation under constant review. As part of this ongoing work, and as outlined in recent parliamentary replies, a review of evidence on the impact of water fluoridation at its current level on the health of the population and environment is being conducted by the Health Research Board.”

The probe is due to start next month and be completed by December.

Group holds rally

Meanwhile, the fight against fluoride is being backed by musicians Christy Moore, Mundy and Damien Dempsey, celebrity chef Rachel Allen, Newstalk host Ivan Yates and Senator David Norris.

Members of Dublin County Council also hope to address the issue.

Only wholefood and vegetarian restaurant Cornucopia in the capital has installed a special filter system – which can cost up to €700 – so its chefs can cook and wash food with
non-fluoridated water.

Aisling is concerned the new review will only reinforce the Government’s position.

She is concerned the people carrying out the study may not be completely independent of State agencies.

Aisling added: “They [the Government] tend to pick people who are pro-fluoridation so their research is bound to be biased.”

Aisling Fitzgibbon, founding member of the Worldwide Alliance to End Fluoridation

The Government has always insisted water fluoridation does not pose a risk to health.

But a study by the Food Safety Authority Of Ireland more than a decade ago warned babies should not be exposed to the chemical compound.

The Irish Dentists Opposing Fluoridation organisation obtained the report through the Freedom of Information Act.

In the document, which was produced in 2000 as part of a review, the FSAI claimed tots could suffer from fluorosis – mild to severe staining of the teeth – if they ingest too much of the element.

It stated: “The FSAI considers infants below the age of four months are likely to be exposed to doses of fluoride that exceed the recognised safety limit that is based on an adverse effect defined as moderate dental fluorosis.

“The level of fluoride exposure is unlikely to have any acute toxic effect.”

“Whilst the majority of scientific evidence favours a positive association between fluoride
and caries [tooth decay]
prevention, this benefit does not apply to infants under four months of age.

“Therefore, there is no benefit that can be derived from exposing this sub-population to fluoride.

“To avoid babies being overexposed to fluoride, the FSAI is of the opinion that infant formula should not be reconstituted with fluoridated tap water.”


  • Fluoride is a chemical compound of fluorine, a naturally-occurring gas, to which another substance has been added to allow it to be dissolved in water or toothpaste
  • Fluoride can occur naturally in certain foods, mostly processed, or in water coming from very deep wells
  • It is easier to add fluoride than remove it
  • Although it can be added to a water drum before being distributed to the country’s main supply, only special filtering systems can get rid of the element once it’s in our pipes
  • Using a filter jug or boiling water before drinking won’t remove the compound
  • Fluoride can be toxic if ingested in large quantities and has been linked with mottled teeth as well as bone-weakening