Today, VOICE launched a Scientific Critique challenging the Fluoridation Forum Report‚ that was released on September 10th 2002 by the Health Minister. The Critique has been signed by 11 eminent scientists from Canada, India, Japan, New Zealand, the UK and the USA, all of whom have been researching fluoridation of drinking water for many years.

VOICE spokesperson Robert Pocock said today, “This critique exposes the serious limitations in the Forum Report that, according to the Health Minister, looked only at “recognised” scientific evidence. The critique now shows how much of the scientific evidence has been avoided, misunderstood, or misrepresented, and effectively undermines the Report and its conclusions”.

The Scientific Critique concludes that as a result the authors of the Forum Report have left many questions unanswered.  It also concludes that claims of no adverse health effects, repeated by the Health Minister on September 10th 2002, are blatantly false.

Aside from the unintended systemic health effects, the Critique declares that the intended effect of reducing dental caries in Ireland has not been proved. Indeed any claimed reduction is described as so small as to be clinically insignificant. VOICE Spokesperson Robert Pocock said, “This negates the prime justification for fluoridation, yet the Minister still pursues it in disregard of all continental EU countries, all of whom have long since rejected fluoridation”.

State Agencies Undermined

Setting aside the weakness of its scientific method and conclusions, the Fluoridation Forum and its report has exposed several serious problems affecting Irish State agencies.

In particular, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are inextricably involved in a policy which uses public drinking water in pursuit of a questionable a health gain. The Irish Medicines Board is also at fault given the medicinal nature of the intervention.

The FSAI, which investigated infants exposed to fluoride in the early months of life, is criticised by VOICE spokesperson Robert Pocock, “Having agreed at one meeting (Oct 3rd, 2001) to warn parents against making up infant formula with tap water, in the Forum Report a year later the FSAI produced two totally irreconcilable fluoride recommendations”. These recommendations have already attracted international ridicule in the Critique.

VOICE also criticised the FSAI for the contradiction between the Fluoridation Forum Report (co-authored by the FSAI), which permits a daily intake of 10 milligrams of fluoride a day (1), and the FSAI’s own Recommended Daily Allowance for fluoride, which is zero, published in 1999.

Seriously flawed as the science is, the reality of fluoridation in Ireland raises even more alarming issues, particularly with respect to the fluoridating reagent, used in Ireland, an industrial waste product.  The Critique points to the extreme toxicity of this industrial waste product, which has never been toxicologically tested. The Critique also deplores the Forum Report’s failure to address the question of combinations of the fluoride ion with other minerals, for example lead, aluminium and iron, under drinking water conditions. The US EPA has recently admitted (Appendix 7) that these fluoride chemistry research needs exist.  This exposes the Irish EPA presence on the Forum and its recommendation to continue fluoridation of Irish drinking waters regardless of this major uncertainty about biochemical effects.

Finally, VOICE Spokesperson Robert Pocock points to a further contradiction of both the science and the practice of fluoridation.  “The Report recommends reduction of the fluoride concentration to the target level of 0.7mg/litre (2). Yet under a background note posted on its own website (3), the Forum on Fluoridation states that below 0.8 mg/Litre  there are no significant beneficial effects in bringing about a reduction in tooth decay. How this admission squares with the Minister’s claim that fluoridation is a paternalistic intervention to protect dental health is the most inexplicable part of this cover-up”.