Fluoride Action Network

Southampton: Fluoridation of city would have wider impact

Source: Daily Echo | June 3rd, 2008 | By Jon Reeve
Location: United Kingdom, England

ADDING fluoride to Southampton’s tap water would mean thousands of people living outside the city receiving the medication – even though they do not need it.

The Daily Echo can reveal that more than 36,000 residents in Eastleigh, Totton, Hamble and Netley will also get top-ups of the chemical if the controversial plan goes ahead.

City health chiefs want the measure introduced to combat alarming levels of tooth decay, particularly among young children.

Last year alone more than 500 youngsters had to undergo surgery to remove diseased teeth under general anaesthetic.

Various educational campaigns have failed to have an impact, especially in 11 identified target neighbourhoods were oral health is worst.

But while four of those areas inside Southampton would not be covered by the scheme to fluoridate the supply to two-thirds of the city’s homes – about 160,000 households – many outside the city’s boundaries would.

Despite not having the same alarming dental health issues, the non-Southampton residents would be affected because their homes are also served by the Otterbourne water distribution centre.

Last night, local politicians told the Daily Echo they want reassurances about the potential benefits and health impact of the scheme.

Eastleigh Council’s Cabinet member for social policy Cllr Anne Winstanley was unaware part of the borough would be included in the project.

After the Daily Echo broke the news to her she said: “I think there are questions both ways, because there’s the question of enforced medication without consent.

“Where people diligently use fluoride toothpaste, do they then end up with an excess through fluoridation? Given that it will effect a part of Eastleigh, I would certainly want reassurances that the consultation will extend beyond Southampton so that anyone affected will be able to have their say.”

Eastleigh MP Chris Huhne said he does not think fluoridation was the right answer to oral health problems.

“The real dental problem in our area is lack of access to NHS dentists,” he said.

“This planned fluoridation seems a poor substitute for proper dental care, but I look forward to a full public consultation in the areas of my constituency affected.”

As previously reported, health chiefs are due to launch a three-month public consultation on the plans in August, ahead of a decision being made in January next year.

Health and social care professionals, MPs, councillors and patient groups were all asked for their opinions on project earlier this year.

The report says the responses provided wide-ranging opinions, varying from those strongly in favour to those vehemently against.

There were also those who said they did not know enough about the subject to give an opinion.

However, all said they were concerned about the impact on people who do not need help with dental health.

The report also adds that any Hampshire residents involved in the scheme would have an opportunity to respond to the consultation, the full details of which are yet to be finalised.