Fluoride Goes Down Like a Lead Balloon

WATER fluoridation is a subject that prompts strong emotions on both sides of the argument.

For those opposed to it, fluoridation is an attack on civil liberties and on the right to choose whether we use a controversial chemical which has been linked to a range of medical problems including cancer, irritable bowel syndrome and thyroid trouble.

Fluoridation is an attack on the basic medical ethic, enshrined in the European Human Rights Convention, that patients must have the right to refuse or discontinue medication.

However, we are being continually guilt-tripped about the suffering supposedly caused to young people by opposition to fluoridation.

It’s the conventional wisdom that fluoridation reduces tooth decay in children.

Yet there is considerable evidence that it does not reduce levels of decayed, missing and filled teeth or even the “dental health inequalities” that form such a large part of the Labour, Tory and Liberal Democrat argument in favour of fluoridation.

There is considerable evidence from the United States – the home of water fluoridation – that challenges the conventional wisdom about fluoridation and teeth.

According to the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Centre, the US is in a state of dental crisis.

More than half of all children aged 6-8 and two-thirds of all 15-year-olds experience dental decay.

British politicians say we should follow America’s lead and fluoridate, because America has the best teeth in the world.

Clearly, it’s not that simple.

In fact, most European countries have either refused to embark on fluoridation – like France, which rejected it on the advice of the Pasteur Institute – or have banned it like the Netherlands, which has observed fluoridation’s effects for 23 years.

We don’t even have to cross the English Channel or the Irish Sea to challenge the idea that water fluoridation reduces tooth decay.

The conclusion of the York Review, the Government’s own study of water fluoridation, which reported in 2000, found “little evidence” that fluoridation reduced dental health inequalities.

Pro-fluoridation professionals seek to give the impression that scientists generally agree with them.

This is the case with the British Dental Association and the British Medical Association, but elsewhere fluoride is not seen as “safe and effective”.

Robert Carton, former president of the Union of Government Scientists at the US Environmental Protection Agency – the body that oversees drinking water quality in the US – has described fluoridation as “the greatest case of scientific fraud of this
century, if not of all time.”

In 1998, Dr Peter Mansfield examined people in the fluoridated West Midlands and carried out fluoride-level tests on more than 200 volunteers.

He found that 60 per cent of them were ingesting more fluoride than the Government considers safe.

Some of them had four times the “safe” level in their bodies.

Mansfield sent his results to the highest levels at the Department of Health, but he was ignored.

This is especially alarming in view of the amount of fluoride that is officially considered safe.

Although fluoride is scientifically classed as more toxic than lead, the Government allows 20 times as much fluoride as lead in drinking water.

Meanwhile, while few people seem to know, most would be horrified to learn that the fluoride added to drinking water isn’t the pharmaceutical grade stuff added to toothpaste.

It’s hexafluorosilicic acid derived from an industrial process; namely, the manufacture of phosphate fertiliser.

It comes from the pollution scrubber liquor from the factory chimneys of that industry and is simply re-labelled a “recovered product”.

The fluoride that the Prime Minister wants to put in everyone’s drinking water is a hazardous industrial waste that is illegal to dump at sea.

This toxic waste doesn’t just contain fluoride. It also has small amounts of impurities such as lead, mercury, beryllium and arsenic.

One may wonder how it ever managed to pass any safety test.

The simple – if unbelievable – answer is that it didn’t. In Britain, the National Pure Water Association has repeatedly challenged the Government to produce the safety testing data for the product.

The Government never has, because the data doesn’t exist.

It is a wonder that any part of the medical profession could be in favour of fluoridation, in breach of both the European Convention on Human Rights and Medicine and standard medical practice.

When Manchester City Council was about to begin putting fluoride in school milk in July 2000, the local Green Party sought reassurances that parents would be given comprehensive information and encouraged to make their own choice about it.

The council’s senior dental health officer told the Greens that the information would be properly balanced.

But when asked how this was compatible with the policy of positive marketing of the product, he would not acknowledge any contradiction.

Tony Blair should note that many countries have tried fluoridation and stopped it. Only five still fluoridate to any great extent.

In Ireland, Europe’s most heavily-fluoridated country, there are growing protests in favour of stopping fluoridation.

There is a similar movement in the US.

Britain is going backwards because an old, conventional wisdom persists in the face of all the evidence about the lack of effectiveness of fluoridation, the health dangers, the attack on civil liberties and the breach of medical ethics.

Fluoridation is not really about children’s teeth.

It’s about ideology.

If the debate were really about teeth, the conclusion would be obvious and uncontroversial.

Tooth decay is caused by poor diet and inadequate oral hygiene.

Fluoridation merely medicates everyone on the debatable grounds that this will help some of them to have better teeth, while a blind eye is turned to the potential adverse effects on other aspects of health.

Education is the key to protecting teeth.

Fluoridation is a neat way of getting rid of a hazardous industrial waste.

Emily McIvor is the Green Party’s spokesperson on children’s issues