Experts to review use of fluoride in water

An international group of consultants is to be appointed by the Government to examine the use of fluoride in the public water supply.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney informed a meeting of Fine Gael councillors of the review yesterday ahead of a Cork County Council vote calling on the Government to ban it.

Cork County Council is the largest local authority to condemn the use of fluoride in the public water supply and councillors voted by a huge majority yesterday to stop its use. The council will write to Health Minister James Reilly urging him to stop fluoridation.

Members of the Fluoride Free Towns, who attended the council meeting, welcomed the council’s decision to seek a ban.

FFT spokesman Owen Boyden said: “I also welcome news that a review is to be carried [out] by outside experts. I guess the Government is doing this because it’s feeling the pressure from the public. But there is already enough scientific evidence out there which tells us we need to stop it now.”

Bantry has been designated Ireland’s first fluoride- free town, following Mr Boyden’s campaign. Fluoride Free campaign teams are now working with other West Cork towns — including Clonakilty, Skibbereen, Macroom, Kinsale, Castletownbere, and Bandon — to achieve fluoride-free status.

Ireland is the only EU country and one of only two in the world with a national mandatory public water fluoridation policy.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland and the expert body set up to monitor the policy insist that the fluoride concentrations in public drinking water pose no known medical problems to the general population.

During a lengthy debate on the issue, Mayor of County Cork, Fine Gael councillor Noel O’Connor, said he welcomed the news given to his party members by Mr Coveney and said it was right that an independent expert group examine it.

Fianna Fáil councillor Christopher O’Sullivan proposed the motion seeking “the immediate cessation of fluoridation of the public water supply” describing it as “a wrong mass medication”. “It contravenes the EU Convention on Human Rights. Nearly all countries in the EU have stopped it. The US Department of Health says there is zero benefit by ingestion of fluoride.”

Fine Gael councillor Adrian Healy said: “Some of the countries we are exporting food to are now calling into question the use of fluoride in our food products and this would be very detrimental to the food industry.”

Fianna Fáil councillor Pat Murphy said when he was growing up he got water from a well and his teeth are fine. “Anyway there’s enough fluoride in toothpaste. It’s time we stopped this,” said Mr Murphy.

Labour councillor Noel Costello said councillors should await the outcome of the Fluoride and Caring for Children’s Teeth study at primary schools in Cork, Kerry, and Dublin primary schools being undertaken by the HSE.

However, the Fine Gael leader on the council, Kevin Murphy, Fine Gael councillor John O’Sullivan, and Fianna Fáil councillor Alan Coleman all supported banning fluoridation.

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