One-in-10 houses in Ireland may have lead contamination in their water
In May 2016, I wrote to Irish Water, including its Board of Directors, the Director General of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Chief Executive of the Food Safety Authority, Chairman of the Consumers Association of Ireland, Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health, Minister for Health and Taoiseach’s Office among others, in which I raised numerous concerns regarding the safety of Irish drinking water, including the adverse health risks of co-toxicity of exposure to fluoride and lead. A year on, I have received no reply.
For the interest of medical practitioners, I would like to share the following information. It is estimated that one-in-10 houses in Ireland may have lead contamination in their water, potentially exposing hundreds of thousands of consumers to lead poisoning. Certain areas of Ireland, such as Limerick, have been identified as requiring special attention due to lead service pipes. Medical practitioners should also be aware that almost all of the public water supplies in the Republic are artificially fluoridated with hexafluorosilicic acid.
It is noteworthy that a number of peer-review journals have published studies that found higher blood lead levels in children residing in communities with artificial water fluoridation. Moreover, in 2007, researchers published findings in the journal Neurotoxicity, which found that treating water with hexafluorosilicic acid, combined with chlorine used to disinfect water supplies, resulted in increased leaching of lead from plumbing devices over time.
I am sure medical practitioners would be interested to know that in two US cities, Tacoma, Washington, and Thurmont, Maryland, an immediate reduction in the concentration of lead in drinking water supplies was observed when water fluoridation ceased.
Similarly, in 2009, a report by the Chief Chemist in the city of Thunder Bay, Canada (population 110,00), found that the greatest amount of lead leaching occurred when water was treated with hexafluorosilicic acid at 0.7ppm. This is the same concentration recommended in Ireland.
In 2010, a study published in the journal Toxicology found that co-exposure to fluoride and lead resulted in significantly increased uptake of lead into blood and calcified tissues.
In this study, higher blood lead levels were found in animals co-exposed to both toxins compared to animals exposed to lead alone. The authors conclude that their results support the previous studies, which found that water fluoridation increased the exposure of children to lead in fluoridated communities.
According to the World Health Organization, there is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe. Young children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead and can suffer profound and permanent adverse health effects.
Lead affects children’s brain development resulting in reduced intelligence, behavioural changes such as reduced attention span and increased anti-social behaviour, and reduced educational attainment.
Lead exposure also causes anaemia, hypertension, renal impairment, immunotoxicity and toxicity to the reproductive organs. The neurological and behavioural effects of lead are believed to be irreversible.
Lead also causes long-term harm in adults, including increased risk of high blood pressure and kidney damage. Exposure of pregnant women to high levels of lead can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and low birth weight, as well as minor malformations.
However, lead has also been found to magnify the toxic effects of fluoride, increasing the prevalence of dental fluorosis and the neurotoxicity of fluoride on the brain.
To reduce the risk of lead exposure, Irish Water is currently piloting a scheme in Limerick whereby they are treating water supplies with phosphates aimed at inhibiting lead leaching. This practice has proven to be unsuccessful at the new Perth Children’s Hospital in Australia, where drinking water supplies are also fluoridated, resulting in the opening of the $1.2 billion (AUD) (€800m) hospital being delayed for the past two years until the current risk to the safety of the public and staff is resolved.
Clearly, the risks of lead toxicity can be addressed in part or fully by simply stopping water fluoridation. However, as long as water fluoridation remains the holy grail of the Department of Health, its seems Irish consumers, including infants and children, remain at increased risk of lead poisoning, as well as the combined magnified toxicity from exposure to both fluoride and lead in drinking water.
Allowing such a risk to continue conflicts with the Hippocratic Oath taken by all medical physicians. One of the promises within that oath is “first do no harm” (or “primum non nocere”).
Medical physicians have a responsibility to protect the welfare of the most vulnerable, particularly infants. In the interests of public safety, I call on medical physicians to oppose political interference in public health policy, as has occurred in Ireland through politicians legislating mandatory fluoridation for its citizens.
Citations provided for reference purposes.
Scientist and Fluoride Researcher,
Bandon, Co Cork
*Original letter online at https://www.imt.ie/opinion/water-fluoridation-increases-risk-from-lead-11-07-2017/