High Court proceedings were issued on Friday challenging the government’s 40-year-old fluoridation policy.
Dr Andrew Rynne, a Co Kildare family doctor, issued proceeding against the Minister for Health, Eastern Regional Health Authority, Kildare Co Council, the Attorney General and the state.
Some dentists have also stepped up their opposition to fluoridation. The 15-member Irish Dentists Opposing Fluoridation (IDOF) in a letter to the Dail last week highlighted what they claimed was the “undemocratic, unethical and unsafe” nature of fluoridation in Ireland.
Spokesman Dr Dan MacAuley said: “Numerous international scientific studies link fluoride with serious health conditions, such as osteoporosis and irritable bowel syndrome. Fluoridation is an infringement of our human rights because we are being medicated without consent.”
The fluoride used in water supplies in Ireland is a by-product of the fertiliser industry, largely imported from Finland by Albatross Fertilisers of New Ross, Co Wexford. It is not licensed by the Irish Medicines Board.
The fluoride includes carcinogenic chemicals such as arsenic, mercury and zinc, according to samples taken from Albatross Fertilisers and tested for the Eastern Regional Health Board on January 29.
Ireland, as a signatory of the Council of Europe’s 1997 Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine, has broken Article 5 of the convention, according to IDOF.
The convention says: “An intervention in the health field may only be carried out after the person concerned has given free and informed consent to it.”
IDOF is calling on the government to test the effects of fluoride on the population. No such national health tests have been carried out since the 1960 Health Act, which legalised fluoridation of drinking water, was passed after a 45-day hearing in the High Court. The Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the constitutionality of the bill.
The Labour Party and Greens oppose fluoridation. Fine Gael’s health spokesman, Gay Mitchell, said that both sides of the argument should be studied before any change was made.
Since fluoridation of water was first proposed to counter poor oral hygiene in the late 1950s, 98 per cent of Europe has rejected the treatment. Only Ireland and Singapore now have a national fluoridation policy.
The national forum on fluoridation, set up by health minister Michea´l Martin last year, is due to report next month. Martin supports fluoridation but is awaiting the results of the forum before making any policy decisions, according to his spokesman.