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Press Release


New Regulations (S.I.42, 2007) by Health Minister, Mary Harney, to reduce fluoride levels in drinking water were presented to the Dáil the day before her expert advisers presented supporting evidence on February 8th 2007 to the Oireachtas Joint Health Committee. "Both seriously under-estimate the fluoride risks from fluoridated drinking water and are medically indefensible" said VOICE spokesman, Robert Pocock, adding "Fluoridation must end now".

Firstly, for Dr Seamus O'Hickey, Chairman of the Irish Expert Body on Fluorides and Health, to describe the current fluoride problem as 'a slight increase in dental fluorosis in the population'(1) is completely inaccurate because the increase is far higher. This is evidenced by the North-South Oral Health Survey (2002), which revealed that dental fluorosis now affects eight in twenty 15 year-olds from one in twenty in 1984. An eightfold increase in twenty years can hardly be described as 'slight'(2).

Secondly, drinking water containing 0.7mg fluoride per litre, as per the new Regulations, was associated by the UK National Health Service in 2000 with a 42% incidence of dental fluorosis(3). Thus exactly the same proportion of Irish children will still continue to be adversely affected by fluorosis even at the reduced fluoride level.

Thirdly, the UK government has admitted(4) that "dental fluorosis is a manifestation of systemic toxicity", meaning that fluoride poisoning in Ireland will continue under the new Regulations. The wider health implications of this are just as relevant today as in 1997 when first characterized by leading New Zealand dentist, the late Dr John Colquhoun: "Common sense tells us that if a poison circulating in a child's body can damage the tooth-forming cells, then other harm also is likely" (5).

No research, as stipulated by the Fluoridation Act, into this other likely harm, has ever been done in Ireland.

Fourthly, the fluoride chemical (hydrofluosilicic acid) specified in the Regulations has no Marketing Authorisation from the Irish Medicines Board , therefore under the EU Medicines Directive (2004/27/EC) its addition to drinking water, where it is presented as preventing disease in humans, is unlawful.

With the expert body taking five years and, as it told the Committee, 'a lot of prepararatory work' to produce these manifestly flawed Regulations, it is now time for the Minister to make good on her promise to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health in December 2005: 'that if something needs to be changed because it makes good medical sense, I will agree to change it'. Commented the VOICE spokesman, "Surely it is clear that the status quo on water fluoridation now makes no sense, medical or otherwise and this now wholly-discredited policy must be reversed forthwith."
Dublin February 22nd 2007

More info: 086 811 3071

(1) 'Plan to reduce fluoride levels in water soon'. Irish Times 9th Feb 2007.(2) Children's Oral Health in Ireland 2002 : A North-South Survey page 37
(3) York Review, Table 7.2,
pp 36-37.
(4)Baroness Hayman in a Written Answer, for the UK Government: "We accept that dental fluorosis is a manifestation of systemic toxicity. . . " - (Hansard, 20 Apr 1999 : WA 158)
(6) On 7th December 2005, Mary Harney told the Joint Health Committee,
"I would like to think I am open-minded. If something needs to be changed because it makes good medical sense, I will agree to change it. If it does not, I have to maintain the status quo. That is the position on the fluoridation of water."

VOICE of Irish Concern for the Environment,
9,Upper Mount Street,
Dublin 2
( - +353 1 642 5741