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Fluoridation of Our Water Supplies: Done Deal!

The National Pure Water Association’s Elizabeth McDonagh writes to TPA-UK:

Thank you for making fluoridation so prominent on your website, and for publishing NPWA’s Rotherham Statement and my article, ‘Fifty Years of Fluoridation’. That article has a sequel (attached), but both those articles are now of purely historical interest a lot has happened since 1995, including the York Review and the Water Act 2003. The Rotherham Statement still reflects NPWA’s latest position.

You will have seen that fluoridation has been in the news over the past week or so. Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for Health, last Tuesday (Feb 5th), declared himself in favour of it and allocated monies to PCTs who plan to implement fluoridation. NPWA put out a press release in advance of the Minister’s statement and last Tuesday we were inundated by requests for TV and radio interviews as well as journalists’ requests for information. (I did four radio interviews on that day). Newspapers have differed in their reporting of the issue. Some have put our view fairly. The Sunday Mirror was the worst with an entirely pro-fluoride editorial on Feb 3rd, including the statement that opposers were “head in the sand”.

Under the Water Act 2003, a water company no longer has the right to refuse to fluoridate if requested to do so by a Strategic Health Authority. Also, under that Act and a Statutory Instrument attached to it, a three-month Public Consultation must be called by an SHA before fluoridation is imposed on a population. The details of how such a Consultation will be conducted are still somewhat unclear but people who live or work in the area of the consultation will be allowed to make submissions. We expect polling of a ‘representative sample’ of the population. A referendum consulting everyone is highly unlikely. A simple majority against the proposals may not be enough to dissuade the SHA from fluoridating, as under the rules set out in the Statutory Instrument, the ‘cogency of the arguments’ must also be considered and if the SHA deems that the ‘health benefits outweigh the objections’ they can go ahead.

One of the reasons for attaching my article Fluor2.doc is that it records the shenanigans surrounding a consultation in Yorkshire in 1992. No consultations have yet been called under the Water Act 2003. Undoubtedly the re-organisation of the PCTs and SHAs was one of the factors which delayed the process. Another was the necessity for feasibility studies and costings to be carried out (at the request of SHAs) by water companies before the decision to consult the public could be made. Few districts seem to have conducted feasibility studies and costings. We believe that Southampton and Greater Manchester/North West SHAs are close to having completed these. Public Consultations are to be expected in the Greater Manchester/North West region this Summer. Four possible schemes are under consideration for the region, the most extensive of which would cover an area from South Cumbria to the Wirrall and from Blackpool to Glossop, doubling the number of people receiving artificially-fluoridated water in this country (some 6 million at present, mostly in the West Midlands and Newcastle).

About two years ago, the Government set up the National Fluoride Information Centre (NFIC) to inform the public on ‘all aspects of fluoridation’. Having just looked at the NFIC website, I can find no acknowledgement of possible harm from fluoridation. There is no mention of fluoride’s effect on the thyroid. NFIC does not warn parents of bottle-fed babies that they should avoid using fluoridated water for mixing babies’ formula feed, though this was stated by the American Dental Association in advice to its members last November and has been reiterated by no less than the British Fluoridation Society.

There is increasing evidence that fluoride, at 1 ppm or very little above 1 ppm, has harmful effects ranging from discolouration of teeth to IBS, chronic fatigue and cancer. People drink differing amounts of water and obtain fluoride from a number of different sources, including the diet (especially tea, fruit juices and fish), toothpaste ( which children often swallow), toiletries and pharmaceutical drugs. Fluoridation gives absolutely no control on the fluoride intake of any individual, but simply adds to a person’s fluoride load even if he/she is already receiving too much. There is evidence that some people are receiving too much fluoride and there are susceptible groups who would be better advised to avoid it as much as possible (kidney patients, the hypothyroid, ME sufferers, cancer patients).

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