September 21, 2010
International scientists, health and environmental campaigners have presented detailed evidence of the adverse effects of adding fluoride to drinking water at an EU public hearing held in Brussels. Its effects on bone and tooth enamel, the brain, kidney, thyroid function and the endocrine system regulating the body’s hormones were confirmed by reference to extensive scientific research.
Ireland and the UK are the only EU member states to deliberately fluoridate their citizens. The European Commission’s scientific committee on health and environmental risks (SCHER) is critically reviewing fluoride and fluoridation chemicals following repeated questions from Irish and UK MEPs. The committee’s preliminary opinion has already stated that water fluoridation is ‘a crude and rather ineffective form of systemic fluoride treatment to prevent dental caries without a detectable threshold for dental and bone damage’.
At the hearing all committee members agreed with Prof Vyvyan Howard, a leading international researcher in molecular bioscience based in the University of Ulster, that if regulatory approval for fluoridation chemicals was being sought today based on the data presented to the hearing by SCHER, the chances of obtaining it were extremely remote.
A key concern of those attending the hearing was the overexposure of their populations to fluoride. In Ireland there is an epidemic of dental fluorosis in children as confirmed by the North South Survey of Children’s Oral Health in Ireland 2002, two of whose authors were present at the hearing. This survey revealed a seven-fold increase in dental fluorosis in Irish 15-year-olds from 1984 to 2002. Dental fluorosis, which manifests as mottling or pitting of tooth enamel, is a sign of bodily overload of fluoride.
The committee was also alerted to the fundamental contradictions between the advice from another EU scientific committee, monitoring the safety of cosmetics including toothpaste, and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). While fluoride toothpastes must carry labels warning children under six-years not to swallow it as it contains sodium monofluorophosphate, EFSA recently approved the same substance as a permitted food supplement under the Food Supplements Directive. This was cited as indicative of the serious flaws in most of the advice on fluorides provided to the committee by EFSA.
The public hearing on fluoridation on Sept 17th 2010 attracted delegates from only Ireland and the UK as the sole EU member states permitting water fluoridation. The only other EU nationals in attendance were a leading supplier of fluoride toothpastes in Europe, the Spanish shipper of fluorosilicates to Ireland and an Austrian physicist and son of Europe’s most successful fluoridation opponent, the late Rudolf Ziegelbecker who demonstrated the statistical artefacts behind fluoridation’s supposed benefits.
With five of the seven- member scientific panel themselves coming from member states that do not accept these supposed benefits either, the isolation of the Irish and UK government representatives was self evident.
The Irish government was represented by four members of the Irish Expert Body on Fluorides & Health and the UK by the chairman of the British Fluoridation Society (BFS) and another BFS director and member of the European Association of Dental Public Health. Within the UK only a few areas of England are fluoridated because neither Wales, Scotland, the Isle of Man nor Northern Ireland permit it.
The eight campaigners committed to stopping fluoridation including Prof Vyvyan Howard were Dr Paul Connett, Emeritus Professor of Chemistry in the US and executive director of Fluoride Action Network, the National Pure Water Association’s Elizabeth McDonagh and John Graham, Dr Stephen Peckham of Hampshire Against Fluoridation, Austrian physicist Rudolf Ziegelbecker and Robert Pocock of Irish environmental group VOICE.
UK Councils Against Fluoridation(UKCAF) did not attend on the grounds that as a medicinal intervention, fluoridation is a medical issue and as such is not within the remit of a scientific committee. UKCAF has written directly to European Commissioner ultimately responsible for the public hearing John Dalli, demanding immediate enforcement of the relevant medicines directives.
Dr Paul Connett’s soon-to-be-published book The Case against fluoride has just been reviewed by Prof Howard in the open access quarterly research journal Fluoride.
Websites of Campaign groups involved in this SCHER risk assessment.
International: Fluoride Action Network www.fluoridealert.org
National Pure Water Association http://www.npwa.org.uk
UK Councils Against Fluoridation www.ukcaf.org
VOICE of Irish Concern for the Environment www.voiceireland.org
Fluoride Free Water www.fluoridefreewater.ie
Fluoride journal is on www.fluorideresearch.com