Fluoride Action Network

Yorkshire: ‘Should fluoride be put in water?’

Source: Bradford Telegraph & Argus | June 1st, 2009 | By Claire Lomax
Location: United Kingdom, England

A feasibility study is being carried out into whether fluoride should be added to drinking water in a bid to improve oral health in the district.

Yorkshire and Humber Strategic Health Authority is to carry out the study on behalf of the whole region, but at the specific request of primary care trusts in Bradford and Airedale and Kirklees.

Residents of both districts have some of the worst oral health in the country and latest available figures show that five-year-olds in Bradford and Airedale have significantly higher levels of decayed, missing and filled teeth than children elsewhere in the region.

Support for the fluoridation of water is key to NHS Bradford and Airedale’s oral health action plan and the trust believes it would bring benefits for the people, as it would optimise expose to fluoride and therefore reduce tooth decay.

It also runs a fluoride varnish scheme for children, which is plans to expand.

Chief executive of NHS Bradford and Airedale, Simon Morritt said discussions with Yorkshire Water had revealed it was not possible to contain water fluoridation to just West Yorkshire.

Because of this he had written to the health authority asking for a feasibility study to carried out for the entire Yorkshire region.

“It is expected to be completed by April of 2010,” he said.

An NHS Yorkshire and the Humber spokesman 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.”

Putting fluoride in water has the backing of Health Secretary Alan Johnson. However, it also has many critics who say it can cause fluorosis, where teeth become pitted and stained, and historically people in Bradford and Airedale have been opposed to it.

A letter sent by Bradford Council in 2003 to then Prime Minister Tony Blair opposed the fluoridation of water as “unethical”.