Fluoride Action Network

Southampton: Agree to pay if fluoride scheme goes wrong!

Source: Daily Echo | February 23rd, 2009 | By Jon Reeve
Location: United Kingdom, England

Health chiefs challenged to pay ANTI-fluoride campaigners have challenged those backing plans to add the chemical to tap water in Southampton and parts of the surrounding area to accept personal liability if it goes wrong.

The calls come after the head of an Australian state signed a legally-binding document promising to financially compensate anyone suffering adverse health effects from drinking fluoridated water.

Campaigners say her move should be mirrored by health chiefs here, or senior politicians who have backed fluoride, like Health Secretary Alan Johnson or even Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

As reported in the Daily Echo, the process to fluoridate the water supplies of 3.7m Queensland residents began late last year. The scheme was introduced by state premier Anna Bligh – great-great-great-great-granddaughter of William Bligh, the captain of HMS Bounty during the famous mutiny in 1789 – shortly after she took office.

Around 70 per cent of Australians already receive fluoridated water, and Ms Bligh said there was no evidence of any side effects and, despite opposition, introduced the mandatory project in her state.

An anti-fluoride campaigner challenged her willingness to back up those claims by signing a letter accepting responsibility if she was proved wrong.

In front of around 200 stunned people at a public meeting, Ms Bligh duly put pen to paper.

The document she signed read: “I, Anna Bligh, as the instigator of forced fluoridation in Queensland, give my personal guarantee that fluoridation causes no adverse health effects, and in the event that it does, I will accept full liability and will provide financial compensation.”

Doug Cross, from UK Councils Against Fluoridation, says those promoting fluoride in the UK should be prepared to make similar assurances.

“Would Mr Brown, or the chief dental officer like to approach a bank and take out a loan to cover themselves for this?” he said.

“Maybe they would like to offer us their assurances that, like mercury vapour from tooth fillings, fluoride is indeed safe, and they will put their own houses and personal wealth on the line as surety for the practice that they are trying to force on the British public?”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said the ministry was “unable to speculate” on fluoridation in Southampton, and whether anyone would accept liability for it, until after a scheme had been approved.

Three-quarters of people who responded to a three-month public consultation on controversial plans to add fluoride to Southamp-ton’s tap water said that they did not want it. An independent phone survey – designed to gauge the reaction of a cross-section of the population – also showed more people against the scheme than for it.

Anti-fluoridation campaigners said the figures showed that the proposals must now be thrown out. However Southampton health chiefs, who are behind the scheme, say that a public vote cannot be the deciding factor, and other factors must also be taken into account when health chiefs meet to make the final decision on Thursday.