FLUORIDE is back on the agenda in Huddersfield.
Health officials in Kirklees have commissioned a feasibility study to see if the chemical could be added to the region’s drinking water.
It is a move sure to spark fierce debate and controversy, with many factions fiercely opposed to the move, claiming it is forced medication.
But there are others who insist it is a proven way of improving dental care for generations to come.
Fluoride was added to some water supplies for parts of Huddersfield up to the 1980s but then stopped.
A spokesperson for NHS Yorkshire and the Humber confirmed that a study was to be carried out.
She said: “The Department of Health published guidance in 2008 to help improve dental health and reduce health inequalities by considering the option of fluoridating the local water supply, alongside other options.
“NHS Yorkshire and the Humber has received requests to commission a feasibility study from two PCTs.
“The feasibility study is the first stage of an extensive process and will establish if topping up the natural level of fluoride is technically feasible. We expect that results of the feasibility study will be available in spring next year.”
NHS Kirklees and NHS Bradford are the two trusts which have asked for the study.
An NHS Kirklees spokesman confirmed a study was to be carried out and said, depending on the results, a full public consultation would be launched.
A Yorkshire Water spokesman said fluoride was not added to the water supply in Yorkshire at the moment.
“It is important to recognise that, although we supply the majority of Yorkshire residents, Yorkshire Water plays no part in the decision-making process.
“The company has no view on the issue, but is obliged to act on a decision by the Strategic Health Authority, following consultation with the public.
“The Strategic Health Authority for the region is carrying out a feasibility study to examine if fluoride could be added to the water supply in Yorkshire.
“If that study indicates fluoridation is possible, then the Strategic Health Authority has the option of consulting the public on their views.
“If the majority support the addition of fluoride to the water supply, then the next step would be for the Strategic Health Authority to approach Yorkshire Water to request it.
“However, the Strategic Health Authority can still request that fluoride is added to the water supply, even if the majority of the public oppose it”.
Flouride [sic] facts
The first water supplies to be fluoridated were in the USA over 50 years ago.
The experiment then spread to New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Ireland and the UK.
Fluoride can act, in a complex way, to reduce the acid that causes tooth decay.
Anti-fluoride campaigners claim it can cause cancer, osteoporosis, organ and genetic damage.
Within the EU around 12.1m people are supplied with water whose natural fluoride content has been adjusted up to the optimum level.
In the UK, fluoridated water is supplied to around 5.5m people.
The most extensively fluoridated region in the UK is the West Midlands.
In the Republic of Ireland, 67% of drinking water is fluoridated.