Mayo County Council has been warned they face possible court cases being brought against them if they continue to add fluoride to drinking water despite recent studies showing perceived health risks.
Ireland started adding fluoride to its drinking water in the 1960s for dental hygiene reasons and remains one of very few countries in Europe which continues with the practice. Attendees at last week’s Strategic Policy Committee meeting on Water Supply and Sewerage were told that local authorities could not keep ‘their heads in the sand’ any longer on the health risks associated with the fluoridation of water.
Stephen Kerr of Fluoride Awareness Mayo gave a presentation to the committee where he called on them to make recommendations to stop the practice of adding fluoride to the water. He cited a report by Cork based scientist, Declan Waugh whose study on water fluoridation resulted in four major Canadian cities deciding to end the practice.
Mr Kerr said that every other single country in Europe has ‘either rejected, stopped or banned water fluoridation’ while Ireland spends €10 million every year on it. He said the ingestion of fluoride to treat teeth was the wrong method and explained that health studies have found that conditions such as neurological disease and cardiovascular disease which are linked to water fluoridation are higher in areas with fluoridated water.
“In January 2012, medical researchers published new evidence in the journal of Nuclear Medicine Communications demonstrating that fluoride is a major contributor factor to coronary heart disease, by far the single largest fatal illness prevalent in Ireland today,” he said.
Mr Kerr added that the United States Institute of Medicine has set the upper daily fluoride dietary intake level for babies of 0.01 parts per million but said bottle-fed babies in Ireland are exposed to fluoride levels 8,000 per cent higher than these recommended levels.
Following similar talks by Declan Waugh to local authorities in the south of Ireland, Kerry County Council and Bantry Town Council have sent letters to the HSE asking for the health risk assessments to be undertaken on the chemicals used for fluoridation of drinking water. Mr Kerr called for Mayo County Council to send similar letters to safeguard themselves.
“Any water or local authority who in light of these findings continue to allow such a product to be discriminately added to public water are likely to require indemnity insurance. The fact that Councils have been made aware of these risks they are obliged under EU law to protect the interests of consumers first. To continue adding this chemical when having the power and authority to seek evidence as to whether it is safe first but never doing so is professional negligence,” he said.
However, Noel Burke Senior Engineer with Mayo County Council explained that the council were obliged under law to add fluoride to water and if they stopped they would be breaking the law and face possible fines. While he welcomed the debate it said people had to be careful what they say on the subject.
Cllr Rose Conway-Walsh said she welcomed the presentation but added that both sides of the story needed to be told before councillors can make recommendations. She said questions needed to be asked if fluoridation was necessary any longer and proposed the SPC invite the HSE to answer their questions. This was seconded by Cllr Blackie Gavin and it was agreed this was the best way to address the issue.