Pressure on the Government to commission research on the fluoridation of water has increased following calls from the Labour Party and the Green Party for a new investigation – and a protest march to the Dáil.

Groups from Dublin, Leitrim, Sligo and Donegal, part of the Fluoride-Free Water campaign, yesterday handed in a letter at Leinster House calling for a ban on fluoridation and the commissioning of a study on its health effects. The letter and copies of studies highlighting concerns were accepted by Minister of State at the Department of Health Ms Mary Hanafin.

Dr Don Macauley, a dentist and adviser to the campaign, said the case for a ban was made on the grounds of health, freedom to choose and damage to teeth. The Department had not complied with the 1960 Health Act and had not heeded a World Health Organisation recommendation that fluoride impacts be evaluated in populations, he said.

Labour’s environment spokesman, Mr Eamon Gilmore, said there was a need for an independent study. “When fluoride was first introduced, a commitment was made by the Department of Health to undertake studies on possible health implications. However, none were ever undertaken and concerns now being expressed by members of the public should not be ignored.”

Green MEP Ms Patricia McKenna said the Minister should seek a review and stop fluoridation in light of scientific evidence linking it to serious health problems such as cancer, osteoporosis and genetic damage. The Department of Health has disputed the significance of this research.

The fluoride compound, hydrofluosilisic acid, is highly reactive, corrosive, bioaccumulative and toxic, and its use warranted, at the very least, an environmental impact assessment, Ms McKenna claimed.

Fluoride takes the place of calcium in bones and cannot be entirely eliminated by the body. As a result, bones become more brittle and the risk of bone fractures increases, she said.

“The fact that most EU countries have abandoned the process or never introduced it for health reasons should also have alarmed the Minister and his predecessors. Now is the time to face the facts and eliminate this serious threat to our health and to the environment,” she said.