Cabinet papers leaked to The Sunday Times early in May revealed government plans to fluoridate drinking water in England and Wales. The reason given for this move is that it would reduce tooth decay among children in ‘deprived’ areas.
Until now it has been up to the water companies to decide whether to add fluoride to the water supply. Not wanting to face possible litigation, the industry has been reluctant to do so. Now, a proposed amendment to the Water Bill would shift that responsibility to health authorities.
Anticipating opposition to what amounts to compulsory medication, water minister Eliot Morley and public health minister Hazel Blears said: ‘Those adamantly opposed [to water fluoridation] would be able to use water filters that remove fluoride or buy bottled drinking water.’
WHAT IS FLUORIDATION?
Fluoridation is the addition to drinking water of chemicals based on the element fluoride, purportedly to protect growing teeth in children. The chemicals used to fluoridate drinking water, silicofluorides, are a toxic waste product from the phosphate fertiliser industry. They are unprocessed hazardous waste containing a whole host of toxic substances – including arsenic, mercury and lead – not found in pharmaceutical grade fluoride.
FLUORIDE IN NUMBERS
1 teaspoon of fluoride is enough to kill a human being
11 percent of the UK’s population currently receive fluoridated water
30 to 50 per cent of children suffer from dental fluorosis (excessive fluoridation) in optimally fluoridated communities
85 per cent of the tooth decay suffered by children would be unaffected by fluoridation
98 per cent of countries in western Europe have rejected fluoridation
100 times more fluoride in fluoridated tap water than breast milk
7:1 the ratio of the incidence of bone cancer in fluoridated to non-fluoridated areas
REASONS NOT TO FLUORIDATE WATER:
1 Fluoride is a toxic substance
* It is the active ingredient in most pesticides. Just over two grams (roughly a teaspoon) is enough to kill an adult; 300 milligrams is enough to kill a child.
* In the US people have died and many have been hospitalised suffering from fluoride poisoning, when faulty fluoridation equipment has pumped excess fluoride into the water.
2 Fluoridation is unnecessary
* Western Europe, which is 98 per cent unfluoridated, has experienced a similar decline in cavities as the heavily fluoridated US and today enjoys the same low level of tooth decay.
* Fluoridation is largely ineffective at preventing ‘pit and fissure’ decay, which accounts for more than 85 per cent of all dental decay.
* Most people receive the ‘optimal’ one milligram per day of fluoride without ever drinking a glass of fluoridated water.
3 Fluoride causes infertility
* Fluoride wreaks havoc on the reproductive system. It renders sperm non-functional and increases rates of infertility. A recent study conducted in the US found increased rates of infertility among women living in areas with three or more parts per million fluoride in the water.
4 Fluoride is a cumulative poison
* Nearly half the fluoride we ingest each day accumulates in our bodies primarily in the bones, but also in soft tissues. High levels cause a crippling bone disease known as skeletal fluorosis.
* Fluoride stimulates abnormal bone development. Clinical trials report that high-dose fluoride treatment increases bone mass, but that the newly formed bone is ‘structurally unsound’.
5 Fluoride depresses thyroid function
* Up until the 1950s, European doctors prescribed fluoride to reduce the activity of the thyroid gland for people suffering from overactive thyroid. Hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid) is currently one of the most common medical problems in the US.
6 Fluoride is a neurotoxin
* A December 2000 study found fluoridated water was associated with elevated levels of lead in children’s blood, which is in turn linked to a variety of neurological problems – including aggression, hyperactivity and reduced intelligence.
* Studies from China have found an association between elevated fluoride exposure and decreased IQs in children.
7 Fluoridation is unethical
* It contravenes the European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine, which sets out the criteria for medical intervention. Water fluoridation denies the right of the individual to refuse or give consent to any medication involving their person.
8 Fluoridation is illegal
* The compulsory provision of medical treatment contravenes the 1998 Human Rights Act. It violates the individual’s right to informed consent to medication.
EUROPE ON FLUORIDE
France: ‘Fluoride chemicals are not included in the list [of chemicals for drinking water treatment]. This is due to ethical as well as medical considerations.’ Louis Sanchez, head of environmental standards for the city of Paris, August 2000
Belgium: This water treatment has never been of use in Belgium and will never be (we hope) in the future.’ Christian Legros, director, Belgaqua, Brussels, February 2000
Norway: ‘In Norway we had a rather intense discussion on this subject some 20 years ago, and the conclusion was that drinking water should not be fluoridated.’ The National Institute of Public Health, Oslo, March 2000
Austria: ‘Toxic fluorides have never been added to public water supplies in Austria.’ Manfred Eisenhut, head of water at Gass Wasser, Vienna, February 2000
Czech Republic: ‘Since 1993 drinking water has not been treated with fluoride in public water supplies throughout the Czech Republic. Although fluoridation of drinking water has not actually been proscribed it is not under consideration because this form of supplementation is considered:
* uneconomical – only 0.54 per cent of water suitable for drinking is used as such; furthermore, an increasing amount of consumers (particularly children) are using bottled water for drinking;
* unethical [because of lack of consumer choice]; and
* toxilogically and physiologically debatable; fluoridation represents an untargeted form of supplementation that disregards actual individual intake and requirements and may lead to excessive health-threatening intake in certain population groups.’ Dr B Havlik, minister of health, the Czech Republic October 1999